Legalizing marijuana: Why nobody is winning the John Morgan primary

After his success with a medical marijuana referendum in 2016, attorney John Morgan favors full legalization but isn’t impressed with pot postures of this year’s Democratic candidates for governor.

The four Democrats running for Florida governor all favor some degree of legalizing or decriminalizing recreational marijuana use.

But John Morgan is not impressed.

Morgan, the Orlando-area trial lawyer who poured a combined $7 million into the losing 2014 medical marijuana campaign and the victorious 2016 follow-up, says Democratic frontrunners Gwen Graham and Philip Levine are too timid on the issue of full legalization. And he’s dismissive of the legalize/regulate/tax stances of Andrew Gillum and Chris King.

On the GOP side, gubernatorial candidates Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis oppose legalized pot.

After his success with medical marijuana, Morgan says he’s not interested in pursuing another pro-pot referendum. Instead, he has already pumped more than $450,000 into his Florida For A Fair Wage committee, which is trying to put a question on the 2020 ballot to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Click here to read more details about Morgan’s views, candidates’ marijuana stances and where legalization efforts stand at MyPalmBeachPost.com

Catholic bishops have “concerns” about medical marijuana ballot proposal

Bishops have concerns about medical marijuana initiative
Bishops have concerns about medical marijuana initiative

With polls showing Florida’s medical marijuana ballot measure likely to win voter approval in November, the state’s Catholic bishops are tapping the brakes.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday didn’t say they were opposing the initiative, on the ballot as Amendment 2.

But they have “concerns.”

“At first glance, the proposed amendment appeals to a sense of empathy and implies safe and limited use by the infirm,” the bishops wrote. “However, closer inspection reveals that the framework established by Amendment 2 is problematic.”

The bishops cited four areas where the proposal has problems. They said it has a potential for fraud and abuse; opens the door to risks from edible marijuana products; there’s no assurance of quality and consistency with the medical pot sold; and could provide greater access to marijuana for kids.

 

Clinton edging Trump in Florida, support for marijuana (yes) still high, poll shows

Hillary Clinton edges Donald Trump in Florida, in new Gravis poll
Hillary Clinton edges Donald Trump in Florida, in new Gravis poll

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Florida by a narrow margin, according to a new rob0-poll by Winter Park-based Gravis Marketing.

While an earlier Quinnipiac University survey this month put the pair in a virtual tie, the Gravis poll of 2,542 registered Florida voters gave Clinton an edge, 46-42 over the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The poll’s margin-of-error is plus-or-minus two percent.

Both contenders drawn unfavorable ratings from voters topping 50 percent.

The prospect of medical marijuana winning approval on its second go-around with Florida voters also looks strong, according to Gravis. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said they supported the measure headed to the ballot in November.

A similar proposal narrowly failed to draw the needed 60 percent support from voters in 2014. But marijuana supporters better not pop the champagne yet — or whatever would be the appropriate celebration:

The effort two years ago also had sky-high early support — drawing close to 90 percent in some surveys, only to fall short in November.

 

End-of-life medical pot bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a bill into law to allow terminally ill patients to use full-strength marijuana in the last year of their lives.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The bill, CS/HB 307, adds cannabis to the list of experimental drugs available to patients diagnosed with illnesses that could result in death within a year without life-saving interventions.

» RELATED: Full coverage of medical marijuana in Florida

The state Senate approved the measure March 7 on a 28-11 vote, with the House passing it on a 99-16 vote the week before. With Gov. Scott’s signature, it is now in effect.

Bill sponsor state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said the measure stems from some lawmakers’ frustration with other legislation, the 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, also called known as the Charlotte’s Web bill.

Challenges to the CMCA have kept the low-THC medical marijuana authorized in that bill from hitting the market and the hands of cancer patients and young people suffering debilitating seizures.

Another bill passed in 2015, the Right to Try Act, allows eligible patients with terminal conditions to try investigational drugs. However, that law did not address cannabis.

The new bill allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients eligible under Right to Try, while also adding medical pot to be regulated under the 2014 law.

Opponents have argued the bill does nothing to help the people hoping to obtain low-THC pot, while opening the door for medical marijuana in Florida.

Read more about the bill.

See a full list of the 68 bills signed into law by Scott on Friday.

Florida Supreme Court gives green light to medical marijuana on next year’s ballot

A proposed constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana has been approved for next year's ballot by the Florida Supreme Court
A proposed constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana has been approved for next year’s ballot by the Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court approved a medical marijuana measure Thursday for next year’s presidential ballot, giving voters their second chance in two years to consider the move.

Justices ruled the proposal meets the state’s “single subject rule” for citizen-backed constitutional amendments. The ballot title and summary for the measure also were ruled compliant with the constitution by the court.

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan is spearheading the latest drive, just as he did a 2014 measure which narrowly missed gaining the required 60 percent voter-approval.

The latest proposal makes some changes to the 2014 ballot language and tightens descriptions about what medical conditions would make a patient eligible for using medical marijuana.

Ben Pollara, director of the United For Care campaign, called the ruling a “huge victory for hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering Floridians who could benefit from the passage of such a law.

“While we still must collect the required number of petitions before officially being placed on the 2016 ballot, we are confident that we will and that Florida voters will approve this amendment in the general election,” he added. “In 2014, four of seven Supreme Court justices approved our ballot language and 58% of Floridians voted “yes”; this time, all seven justices approved our language and we feel strongly that well over the required 60% of Floridians will vote “yes” for a comprehensive and compassionate medical marijuana law.”

According to the state’s Division of Elections, the campaign has collected more than 400,000 verified signatures toward the neeeded 683,149 signatures to get on the ballot. Morgan has said the campaign has far more signatures already being reviewed by county elections officials.

A state law allowing non-euphoric marijuana oil to be used by cancer patients and those suffering from severe seizures was approved last year.

But the state’s Health Department has struggled to get the effort up and running. The latest potential hurdle has emerged with a host of challenges filed by nurseries which failed to be selected by the department to grow, process and distribute the product.

Marijuana use OK’d for terminally ill Floridians under bill

Introduction of a form of medical marijuana in Florida has been plagued by delays
Introduction of a form of medical marijuana in Florida has been plagued by delays

A measure that would allow terminally ill Floridians to use marijuana cleared a House panel Tuesday, but includes a divisive provision that revamps last year’s medical pot law.

Full-strength marijuana limited to a non-smoking form would be available to patients with a year or less to live under the proposal (HB 307) by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation.

A similar bill (SB 460) is scheduled to go before the Senate Health Policy Committee this afternoon.

The legislation looks to build on a measure dubbed “right to try” and that was signed into law in June by Scott.

The new law allows doctors to prescribe treatments to the terminally ill that are being used in clinical trials but not yet on pharmacy shelves. Under the House measure, marijuana would be added to those possible treatments.

The proposal grows out of frustration among lawmakers with delays in the state’s introduction of Charlotte’s Web, the non-euphoric form of marijuana approved in 2014 by the Legislature but still not available to the cancer and epilepsy patients it was intended to help.

That law limited to five plant nurseries the number of growing and dispensing organizations around the state.

But an amendment to Tuesday’s marijuana bill would boost that number to 20 nurseries. Qualifying nurseries have to be big — with at least 400,000 plants under cultivation — and the state’s Department of Health has been struggling to finalize the selection of nurseries.

Charlotte’s Web was supposed to be available to patients Jan. 1.

But after delays caused by legal challenges, Health Department officials are still sorting through thousands of pages of information submitted by 28 nurseries who have applied across Florida to become one of the five licensees with exclusive rights to sell the medical marijuana.

Gaetz said his bill could be complicated by the amendment by Rep. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, that changes the number of  eligible nurseries.

But he said the focus remained on getting a product to patients — this time, he said, it would be for those whose projected lifespan is so limited they are “not buying green bananas.”

“We have to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and evaluate the impact of Rep. Bracy’s amendment,” Gaetz said. “And determine what impact that would have specifically on the existing licensure process. It is our expectation that very soon, this week or next week, licenses will be issued. We don’t want that disrupted in any way.”