Orlando-based attorney and pro-medical marijuana advocate John Morgan is once again putting his money on the line to get medical marijuana legalized in Florida, writing a $150,000 check to get things rolling.
Last month, Morgan promised that he would match every dollar donated to United for Care to get the medical marijuana initiative back on the ballot on 2016. On Friday, United for Care posted a video of Morgan writing that check and rallying supporters to get behind the cause.
"Today I'm going to write a check for $150,000 to get this campaign started today," Morgan says in the video. "And this isn't going to be the last one that I write. I'm going to do whatever it takes to put medical marijuana back to the people of Florida — to make it your decision."
Back in November, during the gubernatorial race, the initiative fell 2 percentage points short of passing, even though more people voted for the legalization of medical marijuana than they did for Rick Scott's reelection.
Morgan and United for Care are banking on 2016 — when more people are expected to hit the polls to vote for a new president — to be the moment when the initiative finally passes.
"We're going to win," Morgan says in the vid. "With my check and your checks, we can do this together."
During last year's push, Morgan put in $2.8 million of his own money to help the cause. He also reportedly paid PCI Consultants Inc., a California-based signature gathering firm, $2 million to help bombard the state with ads talking up the benefits of medical marijuana. People were also hired part-time to gather petition signatures for the initiative across the state.
While support for legalization was strong, Morgan also managed to hit some bumps in the road. After a debate between United for Care and and Sheriff Grady Judd, the head of the Florida Sheriff's Association and an opponent of medical marijuana, Morgan was caught on video addressing supporters with a profanity-laced speech.
"I didn't smoke a piece of grass all the way here," Morgan told the frenzied crowd. "But I'll tell you this: Once I get outside the borders of Polk County, I might smoke a lot of grass. I'm just scared shitless of Grady Judd."
Opponents seized the opportunity to criticize Morgan. He admitted that he used profanity but pointed out that his opponents wanted to focus on his "x-rated" speech rather than the issue at hand.
For Morgan, the push to legalize medical marijuana is personal. His father and brother both suffered from cancer and injuries and found relief in marijuana for medicinal purposes. Morgan's brother, Tim, suffered a spinal injury. Confined to a wheelchair and dealing with the many physical pains and ailments that come with his impairment, Tim uses medical cannabis for relief.
"As soon as I smoked that Afghani, it was instantaneous release," he told New Times last year. "It was like taking a shot of tequila — that warm feeling — and it just relaxed everything down through my legs."
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C.