The Future of Medical Marijuana in Florida: John Morgan's Secret Agenda

By: Roger Stone | Posted: January 29, 2014 3:55 AM
Roger Stone

Roger Stone

While the Florida Supreme Court voted 4-3 to place a medical marijuana constitutional amendment on the November ballot, the political impact of this decision and future treatment of marijuana in Florida are anything but clear.

In recent times, the turnout in Florida in presidential years has favored the Democrats. Off-year turnout in Florida favors the Republicans. Will the medical marijuana amendment increase turnout among younger voters, African-Americans and Latinos?

It is instructive to note that Colorado Democrats took control of the lower House in an upset when full legalization of marijuana was on the ballot the same year as the House election. Respected pollsters like Republican Tony Fabrizio think the impact will be minimal while Democratic pollster David Beattie has written that there is a net advantage for Florida Democrats.

The constitutional amendment put forward by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan requires 60 percent of the vote for passage. Polls taken six months ago clocked support for the measure at 70 percent. More recent polls are even more favorable, as the standing of the Florida initiative has benefited from mass-media pot-legalization euphoria -- and even President Obama's recent pro-pot comments.

The lack of any significant Republican in the pro-pot campaign, coupled with former Gov. Charlie Crist's sudden support for the measure (after Crist, as a Republican, pushed and signed the harshest and most racist marijuana laws in the nation) gives away Morgan's game. Gov. Rick Scott's opposition comes with a useful coda -- "Let the people decide." I don't see Scott campaigning on the issue and think Crist will have a hard time making it a wedge issue to score off Scott.

As for passage, I wouldn't pop the champagne corks just yet. Early polling showed support for the medical marijuana amendment falls off when voters learn it can be prescribed for any condition. But will anyone emerge to make this argument in a statewide campaign? Social conservatives are long on networking but short on cash. The chances of passage at 60 percent increase if no monied party steps forward to oppose the medical marijuana push.

Medical marijuana drive Manager Ben Pollara says his campaign needs $10 million. Crist money man John Morgan fronted 87 percent of the petition drive and legal costs to date. Morgan spent the money only reluctantly, when no other significant pro-pot donor stepped forward. Morgan ran a huge risk by collecting and paying for 1 million signatures before the Supreme Court ruled on the language.

Now Morgan says he has done his part and the rest is up to "others." The national marijuana organizations don't have Florida in their budgets. While there is no doubt many small donations can be raised, it's doubtful this could fund a rigorous campaign.

If no significant anti-money surfaces and no significant pro-amendment money is found, 60 percent becomes a crap shoot. Could the amendment break 60 percent? Perhaps.

While Morgan tells us his only motivation is mercy for sick people, a darker motive is included in his constitutional amendment. The amendment is self-enacting.

Absent a move by the Legislature, the state Department of Health will set up a potentially lucrative system to dispense the medically prescribed marijuana. Well-positioned businessmen are reaping millions in profits in the states where marijuana is legally available.

The next governor will control the distribution scheme and John Morgan is betting that will be a grateful Charlie Crist, who will give him (or a client) a franchise, the profits of which would dwarf his personal-injury law firm.

Perhaps this is why Morgan was willing to risk almost $3 million in contributions and loans.

For the people, my ass.

Roger J. Stone Jr., with offices in Florida and Washington, D.C., is a political consultant and lobbyist who specializes in opposition research for the Republican National Committee. He endorsed former Gov. Gary Johnson's presidential campaign in the 2012 Republican primary. This column is exclusive to Sunshine State News.

Comments (18)

1:51PM FEB 10TH 2014
Crist has saddled us with some of the strictest and most draconian pot laws that has perpetuated a modern day slavery. Slavery today is now a violation of our constitution with the exception of prisons labor and prohibition has more people of color in prison labor camps and the courts system than before the civil war. Obama is our first president of color has the power with a stroke of his pen can end our country second most disgraceful period.
Conerned Citizen
10:34AM FEB 3RD 2014
at the end of the can you justify spending the money we do on Cannabis Prohibition while we allow Alcohol??

If this is a step closer to ending prohibition ..I don't care what the motivation is....
5:37PM FEB 1ST 2014
I, for one person support the Medical Bill for this much needed herb which, grows naturally in our environment. God did know what he was doing, so come on people now the "people" can have their say next November to vote our Scott and Bondi, and vote Crist and make this valuable medicine available to all chronic pain sufferers like myself!. Get out the vote!
Eric R.
10:15PM JAN 31ST 2014
I will like to know how can I be a Owner Legal Dispensary?
I think I can help to do alot of good for Vets. and people how kneed this help.thank you
5:27PM JAN 31ST 2014
Speaking of "Agendas" Mr. Stone.. What's Yours..?
9:37AM JAN 31ST 2014
What a scam this article is. Why not educate the citizens of Florida on both positive and negatives of medical marijuana. Politicians are not doctors. 20 states have legal medical marijuana, they should share their success and failures with legal medical marijuana. Those that make their decision about MM on political parties are like playing football on a pinhead. Slamming John Morgan because of his MM beliefs by making up false myths is not exceptionable. No one is forcing you to use medical marijuana, that is your choice. You forcing me to believe your story is wrong. The internet is loaded with truths concerning MM. Clean state controlled growers that have no bugs and pests in the marijuana that you eat or smoke. Dangerous pesticides that are sprayed in marijuana the drug dealers sell. What about the jobs and tax revenues our state would gain that would also benefit the citizens. What about dispensaries on every street corner. Would you prefer to have black market dope dealers on those street corners like we have today? Marijuana is an herb. Herbs are good for you. I know of at least two pro-medical marijuana votes this November.
Drew Bright
7:56AM JAN 31ST 2014
Thank God that John Morgan spent the $3 M and Got the Signatures. Unless Florida Repubs get their Own mmj bill soon, they are handing Charlie Crist an easy win this November. Thats okay,they purposely robbedRonPaul of his candidacy and gave the election to Obama again so this is par for the neocon Republicans nowadays...
12:30AM JAN 31ST 2014
Exactly why do they have to single out African Americans, and Latinos out like white boys don't be burning it down on Ganga and hash oil ! Just stop it.
bob dennison
12:02AM JAN 31ST 2014
what an asinine agenda you have. tell us more !
10:53PM JAN 30TH 2014
Oh my God. How dare John Morgan make a profit from pushing and funding a Bill that the majority of voters tend to support. Obviously, clandestine, profitable agendas should be sure to hurt the people they affect. He could take a lesson from Rick Scott.
dave copper
12:41AM JAN 30TH 2014
Everyone needs to vote Bondi out of office for her stand against medical marijuana. Don't get mad, get even. She tried to stab sick people in the back, it's time to repay the favor and the same goes for Rick Scott. See ya Governor!
12:59PM JAN 29TH 2014
The problem is I'm a conservative who fully supports medical marijuana just like the other 80% of this nation, the only ones who are against this are a fringe minority of uneducated loons. I will NOT be voting for anyone who is pushing reefer madness. If you think it is appropriate to keep this miracle plant away from those who need it, you aren't fit to run a McDonalds, much less a state. I can't believe the our so called "conservative leaders" were so quickly to shoot themselves in the foot with regards to this issue. It's a question of basic common sense, not left vs right.
11:22AM JAN 29TH 2014
Roger stone,,,yes you are,,,,,,,pro prison lacky
James M. Ray
4:17PM JAN 29TH 2014
Uh, Roger's a Libertarian these days. That's not pro-prison -- far from it.
10:42AM JAN 29TH 2014
"Absent a move by the Legislature, the state Department of Health will set up a potentially lucrative system to dispense the medically prescribed marijuana. Well-positioned businessmen are reaping millions in profits in the states where marijuana is legally available." Interesting, sounds like a democrat denunciation of entrepreneurship. Are not well positioned (and connected) businessmen set to profit from Common Core in Florida? Are Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolis successful lobbyists because they serve ill positioned businessmen who aren't interested in reaping millions in profits from their respective industries? Morgan has money and clout to influence the process. Makes him no different than the utilities,tourism,real estate and banking lobbyists who do the same thing. Kudos to Mr. Stone picking the target, freezing it, personalizing it, and polarizing it.
Koch Brothers
10:39AM JAN 29TH 2014
Social conservatives are long on networking but short on cash.

Really, Roger, do you think people are stupid enough to believe this??
9:46AM JAN 29TH 2014
So if it is a secret agenda how do you, of all people, know about it?

You make two assumptions here that I believe are flawed: 1. That all people who believe this should be on the ballot are Democrats; 2. that only Democrats smoke pot for medical reasons.

As a conservative that believes in limited constitutional government that you are the one with an agenda. You put party politics over the rights of people to self govern. You believe that you and other Republicans know what is best for us and we cannot decide for ourselves.

You sir, are the problem.
8:38AM JAN 29TH 2014
Witchdoctor say "this is a secret?"

Bones Don't Lie.

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