Legal recreational weed in Florida just got closer to becoming a reality. John Morgan, the Orlando attorney whose fortune and advocacy helped bring medical marijuana to the Sunshine State, says he's throwing his weight behind an effort to get recreational pot on the ballot in 2020.
Sure, persuading 60 percent of Florida to back legal weed won't be as easy as selling medical marijuana. But as Morgan's last campaign showed, it's never wise to underestimate him — or his cash reserves.
"One of the primary reasons I didn't believe marijuana legalization would be coming to Florida anytime soon was because the Legislature would never do it," says Ben Pollara, executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Florida for Care. "To get something on the ballot requires a $3 million to $5 million effort, which is almost impossible in the absence of somebody like John Morgan."
That's exactly what Morgan says he's now committed to doing. Yesterday he tweeted he'll lay the groundwork to raise funds for a ballot initiative:
I'm going to look at starting a fund where we all can donate to get full marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020.— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) June 26, 2018
When you mess with the will of the people there are unintended consequences!!
The cannabis industry is well funded now. Money won’t be a problem. #ForThePeople
Pollara says Morgan has long been in favor of full legalization but wasn't sure he wanted to lead that campaign himself — until now.
"Until yesterday, John had said privately and publicly that he was all for this but that this was not gonna be his fight," Pollara says. "And then yesterday he decided to make it his fight."
In addition to crusading for recreational weed, Morgan is also making a push to raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15. His law firm, Morgan & Morgan, has already contributed nearly a half-million dollars to the cause of achieving what Morgan calls "a living wage." His drive to add raising the minimum wage to the ballot has already garnered about 100,000 signatures.
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"The history of John Morgan saying he's going to get something on the ballot and that thing getting on the ballot is pretty good," Pollara says. "He's two-for-two... If John says he's gonna do this and he gets serious about it, it's gonna get done."
Nationally, the tide seems to be turning on recreational marijuana. More than 60 percent of Americans favor its legalization, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. In February, the University of North Florida found similar numbers in the Sunshine State would back fully legal weed.
Still, turning that kind of support into 60 percent of voters on Election Day will be a serious challenge. But Pollara, at least, is cautiously optimistic.
"It is always a challenge to get to 60 percent," he says, "but it is certainly within the realm of possibility."