Medical Marijuana Divides Florida Dem Power Brokers
Around the State
Two of the biggest Democratic power brokers in Florida clashed on Friday over a proposed medical marijuana amendment that voters in the Sunshine State will face in November.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., issued a statement on medical marijuana Friday, causing uber lawyer John Morgan, who sunk $4 million of his own money into Amendment 2, to go on the attack against the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Wasserman Schultz doubled down on her opposition to the medical marijuana amendment, explaining why she came out against proposals at the federal level, while saying she backed a measure sitting on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. The Morgan-sponsored constitutional amendment will need 60 percent of the November vote to pass.
“I voted against the Farr-Rohrabacher amendment because I do not believe, regardless of the issue, that it is appropriate to limit the executive branch’s ability to enforce current federal law at their discretion,” said Wasserman Schultz on Friday. “More broadly, I am supportive of evidence-based medical marijuana treatment, such as in the case of controlling epileptic seizures in children and easing cancer pain with a low-THC, tablet form of the drug. I therefore look forward to Gov. Scott signing the so-called ‘Charlotte’s Web’ bill that he was presented with today. I am supportive of the expansion of its use as a medical treatment if evidence proves its effectiveness.”
Then Wasserman Schultz moved on to Amendment 2, on the November Florida ballot.
“Pertaining to the ballot initiative in Florida, I have concerns that it is written too broadly and stops short of ensuring strong regulatory oversight from state officials,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Other states have shown that lax oversight and ease of access to prescriptions can lead to abuse, fraud, and accidents. Also, given Florida’s recent history in combating the epidemic of ‘pill mills’ and dubious distinction as having among the highest incidents of fraud, I do not believe we should make it easier for those seeking to abuse the drug to have easy access to it.
“As a cancer survivor, mother and lawmaker, I am acutely empathetic to the suffering of people with terminal illnesses and chronic pain,” Wasserman Schultz said in conclusion. “My view is that approval of the use of marijuana as a medical treatment should be handled responsibly and in a regulated manner that ensures its approval does not do more harm than good.”
Prominent trial attorney Morgan came out swinging at Wasserman Schultz.
“I know personally the most-powerful players in Washington, D.C.,” Morgan told the Miami Herald Friday. “And I can tell you that Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn’t just disliked, she’s despised. She’s an irritant.”
Morgan accused Wasserman Schultz of “trying to undermine this amendment” and pledged not to help the DNC raise funds or donate to it as long as the Florida congresswoman remains at the helm.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott, worked for Morgan’s law firm, appearing in radio and television spots and billboards across the state. Morgan has been helping him raise money among colleagues in the legal community.
In his comments, Morgan said of Wasserman Schultz, “She should just become a bridesmaid for Pam Bondi’s next wedding.”
Leslie Dougher, new chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, jumped on the remark, observing that Morgan's characterization of Wasserman Schultz might increase Crist's handicap when convincing women to vote for him.
“First, Charlie Crist dismisses lifelong Democrat Nan Rich," Dougher said Friday. "Then, his most ardent supporter (Morgan) hurls disgusting and grossly sexist insults at Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Not only are Charlie’s policies bad for women, now he and his cronies are openly insulting them.”
Wasserman Schultz has not yet responded to Morgan's remarks.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.