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Florida Lawyer Who Funded Medical Marijuana Campaign Backs This Year’s Recreational Legalization Ballot Measure



“If I was the governor of this state I would pardon every single person who’s ever been arrested for marijuana. I’d expunge all their records.”

By Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix

Orlando-based trial attorney and major Democratic fundraiser John Morgan, who spent more than $8 million of his own money to get medical marijuana legalized in Florida in 2016, announced on Wednesday that he is supporting Amendment 3, the constitutional amendment on the ballot in Florida this November that would legalize the adult use of recreational cannabis.

Morgan not only helped bankroll the constitutional amendments to get medical marijuana passed in Florida in 2016, but he also spent “around $6 million” in 2020 on a constitutional amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage from what was then $8.65 an hour to what will ultimately be $15 in 2026.

But he hasn’t been involved in the campaign to legalize cannabis this year. Until now.

“This is not my amendment,” he said at a press conference held at the Morgan and Morgan law offices in downtown Orlando. “I have given my advice, I’ve given my help, but I have not given my money for this.”

Morgan said that he was recently contacted by officials with Smart & Safe Florida, the advocacy group that is working to get Amendment 3 passed this fall, if he was willing to be the “voice” of the amendment.

“I said ‘Of course I would.’” he said on Wednesday.

While if it weren’t for Morgan, it’s unlikely there would have been another financial benefactor to help fund the campaigns for medical marijuana in both 2014 (when it failed with 57 percent of the vote) and 2016. The cannabis industry is now established in Florida, which is why Smart & Safe Florida has already raised about $55 million to date, and currently has more than $14 million cash-on-hand, according to the Florida Division of Elections’s campaign finance data. Much of that initial money came from Trulieve, the state’s largest marijuana company.

Morgan said the reason that the campaigns for medical marijuana and raising the minimum wage that he’s help fund have been successful is because he’s been able to go outside of Tallahassee, which he called “corrupt” during his news conference.

“Tallahassee does not work for us,” he said. ”Tallahassee works for a very small few: monopolies, cable companies, TV stations, grocery stores. They do not work for us.”

The Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have formally come out against Amendment 3. Morgan was dismissive of DeSantis’ comments about the proposal, specifically his comment that its passage will make the state “start to smell like marijuana in our cities and counties.”

“That’s a fucking lie,” Morgan replied. “And the reason we know that it’s a fucking lie is we don’t smell it now. Have you ever walked around a marijuana store?… It’s a lie.”

Morgan, a Democrat who spent some time in 2017 considering a run for governor the next year before ultimately opting not to, speculated on X back in January that he might consider running for governor as a political independent in 2026.

Whether he does so or not, he’s making sure that he believes that smoking cannabis is now a mainstream activity in America.

“When do I use marijuana? Every fucking day,” he said. “I smoke a joint and I’m still here, as Elton John would say, I’m still standing. But guess what? I wake up every day clear as a bell.  No cobwebs. So the time has come, like the time has come for a lot of the things in the past, to put these laws all behind us. If I was the governor of this state I would pardon every single person who’s ever been arrested for marijuana. I’d expunge all their records.”

More Americans are now reporting daily or near-daily use of marijuana than those who drink alcohol at similar levels, according to an analysis published last week in the journal Addiction and authored by Carnegie Mellon University drug policy researcher Jonathan Caulkins.

If approved, Amendment 3 would legalize adults 21 and older to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products up to three ounces. It would result in an increase of at least $195.6 million annually in state and local sales tax revenues, according to the Florida Financial Impact Estimating Conference from July 2023. It requires 60 percent support for passage.

There are 24 states currently that have legalized recreational cannabis, but as the Phoenix has previously reported, of the 15 states that approved legal weed via the ballot box, only three states—Maryland, New Jersey and Arizona—have been able to pass it by that large of a margin.

This story was first published by Florida Phoenix.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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