Florida’s ‘PotDaddy’ handicaps recreational marijuana ballot proposals

John Morgan, on the right, at the Capital Tiger Bay Club.

PotDaddy says Florida voters may get to decide next year on whether to allow recreational marijuana in the state, but it will be a difficult task.

“I think it has a better chance than not, but I think it is razor thin,” said John Morgan, the flamboyant trial lawyer who financed and promoted a successful medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2016. He doesn’t plan to be a major financial backer for the newest marijuana campaigns.

Morgan, who sometimes uses the Twitter hashtag #PotDaddy, notes his expertise comes from his direct involvement in two medical marijuana constitutional amendments in Florida. The first failed in 2014. The second passed in 2016 with more than 71 percent of voter support.

“When I did marijuana the second time and I knew what I was doing, I barely made it,” Morgan told reporters on Wednesday, after giving a colorful speech peppered with religious references and profanity at the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee.

Morgan says he believes a new recreational marijuana initiative, which has the backing of the marijuana industry, has the best chance to make the 2020 general election ballot.

He says companies like cannabis retailer MedMen, which support the “Make It Legal Florida” initiative, have the financial resources and expertise to collect at least 766,200 voter signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline to qualify the issue for the ballot.

But Morgan says he supports both the Make It Legal effort as well as a prior initiative, known as “Regulate Florida,” which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana and regulate it like alcohol sales. The key difference between the initiatives is that Regulate Florida would let Floridians grow their own plants, while Make It Legal would only allow retail sales of cannabis.

He says if recreational marijuana becomes legal in Florida, the issue of “homegrown” plants will be moot.

“I believe if recreational marijuana passes, I don’t believe the cops are going to be in your backyard digging up three pots of marijuana,” Morgan said.

Morgan also says he sees legalization of marijuana as a civil justice issue.

“I believe now is the time for recreational marijuana because people have been put in jail for no good reason, the people of color, the poor people, that’s who has really suffered,” he said.

Morgan says the passage of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016 is “one of the things I’m most proud about in my life…. Everywhere I go people thank me for medical marijuana.”

Morgan says he has applied for his own medical marijuana card, citing “post traumatic stress disorder” as his qualifying condition.

He says the doctor asked him how he got the condition. “I go, f****** Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America. How the hell do you think I got PTSD?” Morgan said. The doctor approved his application.

Morgan says he will not be a major financial backer for the latest marijuana ballot initiatives, but is focusing on what he calls the “last crusade” of his political career: raising Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Morgan has spent more than $4 million on the “Florida for a Fair Wage” ballot initiative. And the campaign has collected nearly 613,000 of the 766,200 voter signatures required to place the initiative on the 2020 ballot, according to the state Division of Elections.

Morgan says raising the minimum wage will help ordinary Floridians who are struggling financially.

“It’s these men and women who live these lives of quiet desperation. They live in quicksand. No matter how far they swim, they finally get out and then they slide back in. The transmission goes out. The radiator goes out. The air conditioner goes out,” he said.

Morgan says his minimum-wage initiative is getting “a lot of pushback” from groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which argues raising the minimum wage could hurt the economy.

But he says he has firsthand experience with the issue, after raising the minimum wage at his law firm, Morgan & Morgan, to $15 an hour.

“It was palpable. People were sobbing. People were crying. It is life changing,” Morgan said. “This is not a political issue. This is an issue of morals and ethics and religion.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. From the article:

    >>>”The key difference between the initiatives is that Regulate Florida would let Floridians grow their own plants, while Make It Legal would only allow retail sales of cannabis.”

    Since this is the key difference, it seems it merits more reporting. Things I’d like to know:

    Why does Make It Legal (MIL) not included home growing? – Is it because they think it won’t pass, or because they don’t want home growers to cut into their profits? – This is what happened in Nevada. The industry there inserted the poison pill of the “Halo” rule into the legalization initiative. This rule states that people can only grow their own marijuana if they live more than 25 miles from a marijuana store. – In the desert state, that’s a virtual ban on home growing.

    What if Regulate Florida is the only initiative to make it to the ballot? Will MIL keep supporting legalization, or will they take all their marbles and go home? – I’m sure Regulate Florida will support MIL if the reverse is true.

    But most of all, why can’t the industry just get behind Regulate Florida, since they have been carrying the ball for so long, and already have 80,000 signatures? – One thing’s for sure – if MIL doesn’t show good reasons for not including home-growing, I’ll be looking for marijuana businesses that are associated with Regulate Florida activists.

    • Great reply to this! I agree completely. I volunteer with NORML And we help with Regulate Florida and getting petitions signed. We are getting tons of push back now from some others for what some are saying is a horrible petition yet it’s the best I’ve seen for rec. There are some good medical expansion petitions also! Please sign and share. I will not be spending my money with any of these dispensaries limiting our patient access and making sure it’s harder for us either or the ones that are making toxic meds.

  2. I wouldn’t say that. – I’ve been working in marijuana reform for more than 20 years and can vouch for the fact that all progress is good.

    Real marijuana reform activists keep their eyes on the prize and don’t pass up any opportunities for advancing freedom. This is why I state with confidence the leaders of Regulate Florida would support MIL if that were the only initiative to reach the ballot.

    I’d just like to know that MIL will do the same thing for Regulate Florida.

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