Jeff Kottkamp, Former Lieutenant Governor, Joins Fight for Medical Marijuana

Terrapin Care Station, a recreational marijuana store in Boulder, Colorado.
Terrapin Care Station, a recreational marijuana store in Boulder, Colorado.
Ken Hamblin

Don't count out legal weed just yet. Although medical marijuana racked up only 58 percent approval at the polls this election year, supporters are already mounting a campaign to get a similar proposal on the 2016 ballot. The thinking is that a general election will draw more Floridians off their asses to vote than a gubernatorial contest. As proponents begin planning for another push, they just added another big name to their ranks: former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

Kottkamp, a Republican who served under then-Gov. Charlie Crist from 2007 to 2011, filed paperwork earlier this month to lobby for Florida for Care, according to a report from Sunshine State News. The pol will be lobbying on behalf of legislation, not the ballot initiative, the report says.

"Like so many other Floridians who back medical marijuana, I have my own story," Kottkamp told Sunshine State News. "I watched my mother suffer with cancer for ten years. I think when we have loved ones and think there is any way to alleviate their suffering, how can we not do whatever it takes?"

While Kottkamp was with the Crist administration, he ran the Governor's Office of Drug Control, experience he'll likely pull on as he tries to nudge legislators toward a bill that would go beyond the milk-toast Charlotte's Web law passed last year. In that capacity, he was responsible for launching the state's effort against pain clinics with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Kottkamp also ran a losing 2010 campaign for Florida attorney general -- a job he lost to current AG Pam Bondi.

But like a lot of high-ranking brass on Crist's team, the Fort Myers' Republican's time in the administration wasn't without controversy. In 2010, the Tampa Bay Times ran a detailed investigation on Kottkamp's travel patterns while in office, including use of a state plane.

Jeff Kottkamp, Former Lieutenant Governor, Joins Fight for Medical Marijuana
State of Florida via Wikimedia Commons

The story argued that records painted "a picture of a man with little reluctance to use taxpayer and Republican Party resources to make life more comfortable for himself and his family." In at least one instance, Kottkamp had to repay the state $1,700 for an air trip for a personal vacation. The politician also had a state trooper drive him to Atlanta for a Kenny Loggins show.

Interestingly, the piece also notes that Kottkamp and his former running mate had a falling-out after Crist jumped from the Republican Party. At the time of the Times piece, the two hadn't spoken since Crist's defection -- which is interesting, because now they're both big-name politicians on the pro-medical marijuana side. Crist is close with John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who pushed and financed the 2014 ballot initiative.

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