Attorney John Morgan pushes medical marijuana amendment at Tampa political forum

02/21/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: John Morgan, medical marijuana, marijuana, Tampa Tiger Bay, Charlie Crist


Attorney John Morgan fields questions about his medical marijuana ballot initiative from the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Medical Marijuana is an issue attorney John Morgan says he’s fighting to bring to Florida, for the people. Morgan answered questions at a Tiger Bay Club of Tampa luncheon Friday where he said it would be a law of compassion.

Morgan first became interested in using marijuana for medical purposes when his father was suffering from emphysema.

"It's a very, very, painful death, emphysema, you basically drown to death in your own bed."

Morgan, who had most of a packed dining area at the Straz Center rolling on the floor laughing with his constant joking, said it was difficult to convince his father who was opposed to marijuana use.

"I walked in. He's sitting at the table. He's got a roast and carrots, those little onions, those little potatoes, and he's sitting there at the dinner table with a Miller Lite in front of him, I'll never forget it. I walked in and he looked at me and he said, 'John, this shit works.' "

Morgan’s brother has also had success with using medical marijuana to treat leg spasms he has as a result of a spinal injury. But people like that are breaking the law. Morgan claims more than 300,000 people will immediately benefit from the medical marijuana law if it’s approved by voters in November. According to Public Policy Polling last month, the ballot initiative had 65% approval among Florida voters. But Morgan said that support may not be so high if ballot language had included broader uses for the drug.

"When I put the ballot initiative together I had to do it, not what I would want. A lot of you may say 'we wish we could home grow it'. Well, that may be your wish but it would not be the wishes of 60% plus. So when you see the language, a lot of people ask me why not more, why not this, well because we have to get this thing passed."

It’s an issue that is gaining support statewide and nationwide with states like Washington and Colorado seeing success with marijuana sales. And Morgan points out, even some medical professionals are changing their minds. Dr. Sanjay Gupta who has a medical advice show wrote in TIME Magazine two years ago that he was against the medical use of pot.

"Two years later, after a lot of study and a lot of research and actually reading medical journals, going to Hebrew University in Israel. Going to Colorado and places where scientific research was going on, he said 'you know what? I was wrong.' Now, we're all about saying we're not going to watch that guy anymore, he's a flip flopping doctor."

Regardless, the debate is still getting pushback from many conservatives in Tallahassee. Attorney General Pam Bondi tried to have the referendum thrown out by the state Supreme Court arguing the ballot language was too broad. She lost. Others, like Tampa Attorney Adam Bantner, claim the referendum is just a ploy to get former Governor Charlie Crist his old job back against Republican Rick Scott.

"Look at it, I mean you have to admit that there is a political benefit to this being placed on this ballot or this election cycle in a non-presidential year. It is going to drive a lot of Democratic vote."

That’s a claim Morgan says is absolutely not true. He pointed out that he was trying to talk U.S. Senator Bill Nelson into running when the campaign first kicked off – long before Crist was slated to run for the Governor’s mansion. Morgan said conservative critics oppose the ballot initiative based on fear and hatred, not facts.

"If we had a polygraph of every Republican legislator in the state. How many of them do you think have smoked marijuana illegally? The hypocrisy is beyond puke factor."

Still other critics argue medical marijuana is unnecessary because there are pharmaceutical companies developing drugs with similar effects as marijuana – another claim Morgan rejects.

"It just doesn't work in pill form. The fact that they keep trying so hard for it to work should tell you all you need to know."

If the medical marijuana referendum were to pass this November, it would pave the way for doctors, and only doctors, to prescribe marijuana to people who suffer from things like epilepsy or cancer. A strain called Charlotte’s Web that is produced into an oil could be used for kids. But the logistics of how the program would work is still unclear. Kelly Aderhold hopes that if the measure is approved by voters it could be used to vindicate people who have been convicted of marijuana possession.

"I've had so many of my friends, good families, caring families, but their kids have had mental illness so they've gotten caught with personal use because they were self-medicating. Because they didn't want to die like some of their friends who've been on oxycontin and get addicted."

comments powered by Disqus