A major fundraiser for President Barack Obama, John Morgan, has come aboard with a Florida medical marijuana ballot initiative, promising for the first time to pump big money and political muscle into the issue in the Sunshine State, where it is popular with voters.
Morgan, a prominent trial lawyer based in Orlando, said he’s ready to contact a network of donors and dip into his personal bank account to get the measure on the ballot so the voters can decide on the proposed constitutional amendment in 2014, reports Marc Caputo at the Miami Herald.
“I can get the money,” Morgan said. “I have the money. I will be joined by people with money who will help.”
“I’ve been very fortunate in life, and I can make it happen,” Morgan said.Estimates run as high as $3.5 million to get 683,149 valid signatures of Florida voters via paid petition gatherers in order to qualify for the 2014 ballot. Throw in an ad campaign and absentee ballot drive, and you’re looking at maybe $10 million more.
Just imagine what could happen if some of that money were directed towards “educating and motivating” Florida’s plentiful senior voters to support the medical marijuana amendment through airing Should Grandma Smoke Pot?, Robert Platshorn‘s infomercial targeting Florida’s retirees. Here’s hoping Morgan’s obvious political savvy — along with some polite encouragement from the public — will lead him to put some of those funds where they can make a huge and immediate difference.
“This is what has been missing in Florida,” Platshorn, who runs The Silver Tour to teach seniors the benefits medical marijuana, told Toke Signals Friday night.
The thing about constitutional amendments in Florida is, there’s a really high hurdle. A simple majority won’t suffice; amendments must pass with 60 percent of the vote. Lawmakers deliberately fixed things so that the state Constitution couldn’t easily be changed on a whim.
Morgan, who’s now the boss of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, said he hasn’t spoken about the medical marijuana issue with Crist or Obama — although he had dinner with the President on Monday. He doesn’t care whether they support it or not, he added.
Crist, a political chameleon who was first a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat, is considering another run for governor. He didn’t return calls for comment on the medical marijuana issue.
Morgan is enlisting the expert services of former Florida House Speaker and University of Florida law school dean Jon Mills, an expert on Florida’s constitution who will help write the amendment ballot summary to make sure it passes muster at the Florida Supreme Court.
Morgan said he taking a stand on medical marijuana for personal reasons. His father struggled with cancer and emphysema, and only cannabis helped him.
“He was tethered to machines and on all these drugs that he had no appetite,” Morgan said. “One of my brothers was able to get marijuana for him so he could eat and be happy.”