GOP Mega Donor With Sordid Past Pressures Weatherford On Marijuana

    Right-Wing Moneyman Mel Sembler seeks to kill Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana bill for sick children.


    By Jacob Engels


    When State Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican filed HB 843 – which allows the use of marijuana-based oil that contains resin extracted from the plant with .5 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 15 percent of cannabidiol, many Floridians were surprised. This strain of marijuana is not intoxicating but it does have real medicinal value according to hundreds of parents who have successful treated their children for chronic epileptic secures.

    Many Florida Republicans, including myself were amazed and grateful that a rising star like Gaetz was ready to lead on medical marijuana.

    The marijuana-based oil that Gaetz’s bill aims to legalize has been proven to help reduce seizures among epileptic children and does not render users high. Soon, he had a co-sponsor in Democrat Katie Edwards and it finally seemed like bi-partisanship would work in Tallahassee, at least in the case of helping sick children.


    Over the past few months since filling the bill, Gaetz has been widely praised by many forward thinkers in the GOP, and has been unrelenting in his fight to bring the bill to a vote and get it on the governor’s desk. However, some have argued that Gaetz’ bill will help Charlie Crist and the democratic vote while hurting the GOP’s gaffe prone governor Rick Scott.

    “There are some who believe that if we were to endorse marijuana in any form, even a non-euphoric form, that it would buttress either Charlie Crist’s campaign, or damage Rick Scott’s campaign,’’ said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar.“It’s a flawed view, and it’s the reason some people are using to oppose the bill — which is absurd.’’


    Until a few days ago, it seemed that Gaetz and Republicans would actually be able to impress the electorate with their compassion on this issue, that Republicans would stop drinking the right wing kool-aid and allow the “evil reefer” to improve the lives of children who are suffering. But no so fast.

    Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith recently reported that GOP Mega Donor Mel Sembler has been actively lobbying Republican Speaker of the House Will Weatherford to KILL THE BILL….and Weatherford is may be listening according to OUR sources in the capitol.


    Is this the same Mel Sembler who founded and oversaw the Straight, Inc juvenile rehabilitation centers? It surely is.


    Straight, was in business for 17 years from the mid 70’s – closing in the early 90’s amid allegations of abuse. Hundreds of patients at Sembler’s facilities have come forward saying they were physically, mentally, or sexually abused at the hands of Sembler’s employees.


    One women said she was raped, hog tied and put into a timeout room by employees of Straight. Survivors have even created a website to share their stories with the public and other attendees of the Sembler School of Rehabilitation, called Surviving Straight Inc.


    By now, you are undoubtedly asking – why is Speaker Weatherford listening to Mel Sembler? Puff Daddy said it best “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”


    Sembler, his family, and companies have given over $1,000,000 to Florida Republicans or GOP aligned groups and organizations .But Weatherford has to ask himself – is it worth it to be “bought” and puppeteered by a guy who ran a company that allowed hundreds of people to be sexually, physically, and mentally abused?

    Will Weatherford allow himself to become another member of Mel Sembler’s rolodex of spineless money grubbing politicians…..or will he stand up for sick children, and allow them a reprieve with marijuana based oil?


    Weatherford, who many see as an enlightened conservative, has further political aspirations – would bind himself indefinitely to Sembler if he does not stand up and let this bill come to the floor. He would go down in history as the once promising house speaker who had the chance to lead the GOP into the future on the issue of medical marijuana – but didn’t.


    Florida Republicans have a huge opportunity with HB 843. We have the chance to prove people wrong. To prove, that we are not crazy and unreasonable on the issue of medical marijuana.


    House Speaker Will Weatherford should stand up to Mel Sembler and show Floridians that a blank check does not impede his ability to lead and make the decisions that are best for Florida’s children. Will Weatherford fold and become Sembler’s errand boy, or will he grow a pair and tell this purveyor of abuse to fly a kite? The choice is his, but he should remember this – we are watching.



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at