In Miami Beach, the straw ballot question grew out of the making of the Square Grouper documentary by local production company Rakontur in 2010.
“With Miami Beach being a leader in progressive laws, we thought a decriminalization effort would be a good idea because it was happening around the country,” said Billy Corben, who founded Rakontur with Alfred Spellman.
They helped start a petition drive that was eventually taken over by the group Sensible Florida, which gathered about 8,000 voter signatures in an effort to stop Miami Beach police from jailing people with personal amounts of marijuana of 20 grams or less.
The City of Miami Beach balked at the initial proposal, the two sides negotiated and, eventually, Miami Beach put the nonbinding straw poll question limited to medical marijuana before voters.
So far, Bobby Tuna has bought airtime in the Tampa area and here in South Florida. His eye has always been on exporting the message to other markets in the Sunshine State.
In the past week or so, it seemed that he’d crack the Orlando market on WKCF, a Hearst Television-owned CW affiliate. But at the last minute, the deal fell apart.
"When I first started running this, the stations looked at it and said, ‘Yes, this is a legitimate issues show.’ It doesn’t encourage illegal activity, and it doesn’t encourage a specific political activity. So it’s not politically biased," he explains. "Stations have refused to carry it due to subject matter, and unfortunately the law does allow you to do so."