Medical Marijuana Divides Florida Dem Power Brokers

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 6, 2014 1:50 PM
John Morgan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

John Morgan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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 kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (23)

9:32AM JUN 10TH 2014
The comments to this story below are fantastic! What a great group to be so thoughtful in writing about this...

DWS has apparently lost her senses on this very important issue. I'm sure that she realizes that Democrats will NOT support her in the coming election if she continues to embrace the antiquated, regressive cannabis laws currently in place. This is a no-brainer, Debbie - NO ONE is with you on this. You are an army of one in fighting to protect the turf of Big Pharma, the FSA, and all the rest of the "prison-industrial" complex concerns that just love exploiting the existing injustices that prohibition keeps in place. So Debbie, what think ye?
12:34AM JUN 10TH 2014
Read All Sick Of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's WIMPY So We Will Rather Have Vote You Out For Good And Shut Up Yourself, Disgrace Yourself, Become "Former" Congresswoman Soon! Let Rolling All Voters Become First History On Freedom Medical Marijuana Legal!!! We Hate Pharmaceuticals Real GREEDY!!! Now Time Now!!!
7:05PM JUN 8TH 2014
Although I don't agree with her position, I can understand, on some level, why she might feel as she does. Nevertheless, I am AMAZED that Ms. Wasserman-Schultz is taking this stand, in view of the problems it will cause for the Democratic party in Florida. Go figure.
Marcella Respini
2:30AM JUN 8TH 2014
This infuriates me ; I didn't know Wasserman took this stand; I will actively work against the Democrats and anyone who supports the "bridesmade of Bondi" hiding behind the latest cliche of "evidence based marijuana treatment" when anyone who has studied this knows the multiple beneficial value of the actual cannibus plant and oil and that no pill form will replace that. How dare they continue to infringe on my freedom of choice as to what I can put in my body; yet continue to push dangerous pharmaceuticals on the public as if the FDA actually does in-depth safety research. Do not believe Rick Scott or Wasserman.
cyndi hamad
1:27PM JUN 7TH 2014
What Wasserman-Schultz and every other FL politician needs to get straight is this: there are only two choices on Amendment 2: voting YES to stop the arrest, prosecution & persecution of patients choosing to treat what ails them with a natural herb that's been used medicinally for centuries, or voting no to continue this unjust, misguided & expensive war on FL's medical marijuana patients. That's the HARM that's already happening every day in FL & the people are fed up & tired of paying for it! The Fl Sheriff's Assoc's motives are transparent - keeping their budgets as high as possible. Politicians who jump on their bandwagon are either ignorant or have their hands deep in a pocket like big pharma's. Support for Amendment 2 runs as high as 92% - u r either on the people's side on this issue or we will vote u out!
12:39PM JUN 7TH 2014
Vote Yes on 2 Help bring the health and prosperity that legal MMJ will bring Floridians
C Breeze
12:38PM JUN 7TH 2014
Methinks BOTH of them have long held prescriptions for the 'new clinical trips'...
11:24AM JUN 7TH 2014
DWS has truly disappointed me; I was under the impression that as the spokesperson for the Dems, she believed in the tenets of the philosophy. Her true colors appear-merely another politician doing/saying whatever is expedient in order to keep her job.
Her crocodile tears statement about "as a cancer survivor, mother ,and lawmaker..." makes her attuned to the suffering of those with similar conditions clearly shows her ignorance on the subject. As such, she should have been beating the drums loudly for all others in chronic pain or with terminal illnesses . She's willing to "support" the Repubs' last-ditch effort to blunt the impact of Amendment 2 ,but like the Repubs, is throwing thousands of others under the bus ; people such as Cathy Jordan, who has and would continue to benefit from medical MJ .
Is there really anyone who cannot (or will not) see exactly what Gaetz, Weatherford, et al attempted to do with THEIR much-touted bill for compassionate marijuana use? They introduced their version of a medical MJ bill ONLY to draw votes from the voters' expressed wishes for Amendment 2. They are tugging heartstrings for the children who need this drug to save their lives; however, we hear nothing about the adults who would also benefit from having legal access to medical MJ. The hypocrisy of both the Repubs and DWS is sickening. The Repubs clearly saw which way the wind was blowing insofar as medical MJ and only then did offer a "compromise".
For DWS to proffer her opinion at this late date is puzzling; why did she not express her opposition earlier? As far as I know, she has not weighed in before this-for or against.
Politicians are still playing Doctor. I don't believe DWS can claim the title of "MD" after her name. As others have pointed out, she apparently has ignored many of the peer-reviewed studies from eminent medical researchers . (BTW-the latest article published by the NIDA has been discredited by many in the field; the cohort was too small-1 twin study cited, and the other allegations in this government "report" were taken from decades old documents. "Reefer Madness" is readily recognizable in every paragraph).
I urge all who are disappointed at DWS' flipping on this issue to contact her and express your anger. Sitting at home and ranting will not accomplish anything. The only things politicians understand are the dollars coming from happy constituents and those same constituents' opinions on their rulings. Unhappy constituents = less dollars =no job.
Perhaps DWS should consider changing party affiliation-particularly if she intends to vote with those whose tenets/beliefs are diametrically opposite of those of the Democratic Party. She certainly cannot be allowed to speak for the Democrats when she very publicly caucuses with Republicans-especially on such a divisive policy as marijuana reform. Her ignorance on the implications of denying marijuana to those who desperately need relief from myriad medical -NOT political- conditions is astounding. I have to wonder just who has convinced her to buck her own Party's position-and ,more importantly, why. Demand answers-she is the spokesperson for the Democratic Party; as such, she has an obligation to adhere (publicly) to the ideology. Write. Call. Complain. Demand answers-she IS the voice of the Democrats. Will we Dems allow her to continue to speak for those of us who vehemently disagree with her positions ?
10:20AM JUN 7TH 2014
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

follow California? not even in your wildest dreams of paradise, lol...decades behind us

ENLIGHTENMENT...i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old...i hated gays, immigrants, women's rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh's #1 fan....until i smoked marijuana....changed the world

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions

Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

Marcella Respini
2:43AM JUN 8TH 2014
Amen Sir and thank you for telling the truth about how it changed you. You made so many true statements I hope people read what you shared as everything you said is true and this phony war on drugs is a war on American freedoms and an attempt to keep people dumb, sick and dying from alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, guns and what they have allowed to be done to the food we are consuming.
Jim Burkiewicz
1:38AM JUN 7TH 2014
Debbie Wasserman Schultz Shows her ignorance and John Morgan backs the wrong candidate. John Morgan should be backing Adrian Wyllie for Governor instead of one of the corrupt Republican Governors!
Jo Vaccarino
11:17PM JUN 6TH 2014
Dear John Morgan: if you're ready to stand up for individual rights and against crony government and its pawns like DWS - there might be a place for you in the Libertarian Party. Have you met Bill Wohlsifer? He's the one who drafted (pro bono) the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Bill. He is also the ONLY candidate for FL Attorney General who could be trusted to implement Amendment 2 properly and with respect for the patients instead of the cronies.

If you're really "for the people", John Morgan - come back the people's Attorney General candidate! BillW2014.com
Jo Vaccarino
1:00AM JUN 7TH 2014
ps... why are you backing the ex-Republican Charlie Crist? How can you have any faith in a guy who has changed his mind on everything he ever said? The only gubernatorial candidate running who has consistently advocated for the patient's right to grow a natural substance to treat his/her condition is Adrian Wyllie.
mike griffin
9:12PM JUN 6TH 2014
we really dont need folks like this wasserman so im going in favor of john morgan
John G. Chase
6:38PM JUN 6TH 2014
She wants it to "...not do more harm than good"? Of course!

She is ignorant of six research papers (peer reviewed or in the process) by academics at five different universities and facilities that found that states with MMLs (Medical Marijuana Laws), as compared to states where pot is still illegal, have lower rates of suicides, traffic fatalities, not increase in property crime and violent crime .... all with no increase in adolescent use of pot. They are all good faith attempts using apples-to-apples comparisons to get at the facts. Anyone who wants the links to those papers, just ask. john.chase.1934@gmail.com
John G. Chase
6:35PM JUN 6TH 2014
She wants it to "...not do more harm than good"? She should

She is ignorant of six research papers (peer reviewed or in the process) by academics at five different universities and facilities that found that states with MMLs (Medical Marijuana Laws), as compared to states where pot is still illegal, have lower rates of suicides, traffic fatalities, not increase in property crime and violent.... all with no increase in adolescent use of pot. They are all good faith attempts using apples-to-apples comparisons to get at the facts. Anyone who wants the links to those papers, just ask. john.chase.1934@gmail.com
5:13PM JUN 6TH 2014
There are stupid self-centered people in both parties. It is up to the people of Florida to decide this issue. I ask that everybody go out and vote YES on Amendment 2 and make all strains of Medical Marijuana legal in November. Thank You
Jo Vaccarino
12:53AM JUN 7TH 2014
You'll need someone you can trust to make sure it's properly implemented. Be sure to vote for Bill Wohlsifer for Attorney General - he drafted the Cathy Jordan Medical Bill - for patients, not cronies. And he called out the FL legislators on the cronyism they threw into Charlotte's Web. Read his blog on BillW2014.com
4:22PM JUN 6TH 2014
Wasserman steps into the fray late,as always! She still double talks her way saying she supports it, only under strict controls. Well, duhhh, the new law already addresses the tight controls. And, so what if it's restricted to the actual "medical" strain of matijuana, as long as it helps those in need. I can't imagine anyone with a grammer school education disagreeing with allowing the assistance to those suffering.
Samuel Davis
2:20PM JUN 6TH 2014
Probably the first thing I've ever agreed with Debbie Wasserman Schultz on in my life!
jaque bauer
3:22PM JUN 6TH 2014
You took the words out of my mouth!
cyndi hamad
1:46PM JUN 7TH 2014
U both need to read some of the patients' stories on UnitedforCare.org Any vote other than yes on 2 is a vote to continue the suffering imposed on scores of patients by FL's Draconion laws. Even if u r not personally sick and in need of this safe, natural medicine, or love someone who is sick and needs this medicine, anyone who pays taxes should care about this issue. Is this really how we want our tax dollars spent, locking up patients?
Marcella Respini
2:55AM JUN 8TH 2014
Agree and anyone who makes this a political issue needs to just smoke it a few times and they will find out for themselves. We should be able to take it like any other herbal treatment in an oil or tincture. I have terrible chronic pain and headaches and it has never ceased to astonish me the few times I have tried it but I am unable to use this as I could not only be arrested but lose my access to the pharmaceutical medication that I am forced to depend on to live a functioning life.

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.