M.D. M.J.

HIGH in the polls

Is John Morgan using MMJ Advocacy to launch a campaign for governor?

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For the last few years, the effort to legalize medical marijuana in Florida has been nominally led by attorney John Morgan, who has lately begun to piggyback the issue on a possible run for governor in 2018. These efforts have borne copious fruit, with Morgan establishing his identity in national politics, while pulling in high-profile support from strange bedfellows, indeed.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, whose name is synonymous with weed more than any other public figure, except maybe his friend Willie Nelson, offered a tacit endorsement by retweeting an article about Morgan on Aug. 7 (at 2:42 a.m., incidentally). With Snoop slated to headline Gator Growl at University of Florida’s Flavet Field in Gainesville on Oct. 6, odds are good that Morgan will be there, too, maybe even doing a cameo onstage.

Veteran Republican operative Roger Stone, auteur of dirty tricks profiled in these pages in June, is famously 420-friendly. Stone, who lives in Miami and almost ran for the senate as a Libertarian in 2014, even proudly displayed a Nixon bong in his recent NetFlix. He wrote in May 2013, “My own father died a horrific death from bone cancer just eight weeks ago. I watched as the poisonous drugs they gave my father to ease his pain destroyed his quality of life and did more harm than good. I am convinced medicinal marijuana would have helped my father. Those in the Florida Legislature who would not allow even a hearing on medicinal marijuana should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Many ask me if I’m for [Adam] Putnam, [Richard] Corcoran or [Ron DeSantis] for Gov of FLA,” he tweeted on Aug. 4, before offering a full-throated endorsement of Morgan’s undeclared candidacy. This represents a break from his patron, Donald Trump who, as president, has been lukewarm on the issue, at best. The omnibus spending bill Trump signed into law included a bipartisan rider blocking both the DEA and Department of Justice from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana businesses in states that have already legalized it.

Trump signed it because political exigencies left him no choice, but he’s been noncommittal about his plans to actually honor that part of the law. The rider was sponsored by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who boast a combined 48 years’ experience in the U.S. House, and represent states with financial interest in the issue.

Stone’s support for Morgan and medical marijuana has led to significant pushback from activists on both sides of the aisle. Conservatives are dismayed at what they perceive as a lack of fidelity with the Trump agenda, whereas liberals and progressives never really liked him, anyway. Note, again, that it remains unclear if Morgan will even run. He may be teasing it as a means of pushing the existing Democratic contenders to the left on an issue that the party has hardly been enthusiastic in its support.

For their part, in May, gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham called for a Special Session to discuss the legislation in Tallahassee, and that city’s mayor, Andrew Gillum (also a gubernatorial candidate), joined her call two weeks later, so it appears that Morgan’s moves may have had the desired effect. It remains to be seen how those positions will hold up under the intense pressures of next year’s midterm campaign.
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