Competing weed initiatives in FL have local Democrats at war with themselves


“Joe is a freshman legislator in a Republican-controlled house, so he’s got zero juice to get anything done.” So says John Morgan, an Orlando-based attorney and cannabis reform advocate.
The “Joe” he is referring to is Florida state congressman Joe Saunders (D- Orlando), who recently filed House Bill 859, which if passed, would skip right past the voters in Florida, making legal medical marijuana the law of the land.

Morgan, who has personally raised $4,000,000 in an effort to get a similar piece of legislation before Florida voters this November, calls Saunders’ plan nothing more than a publicity stunt.

“I would love nothing better for this to be passed as I envisioned it in March or April,” Morgan told FOX35/Orlando. “But here’s the news, it’s not gonna be. I’m a Democrat, Joe’s a Democrat. I think it’s grandstanding by Joe Saunders.”
Morgan claims that his main concern is that Saunders’ bill, which Morgan is sure is doomed to fail, will only serve as a distraction for lawmakers and voters alike, and could even deter cannabis-conscious voters from feeling the need to get to the polls on voting day.
The Florida Supreme Court has already approved the language in the proposed amendment to the state’s constitution, and if Morgan’s four million bucks can get just 60% of Florida voters to approve, medical marijuana will finally be a reality in the Sunshine State.
The ability of the public to decide on the proposed pot amendment is expected to draw a lot of young and mostly democratic voters to the polls in November, which has gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist smacking his lips as he heads into a hard fought battle against possible space alien and Republican incumbent, Rick Scott. It should come as no surprise then, that John Morgan is a dear, dear friend of Crist’s.

Florida Governor, and possible space alien, Rick Scott

Whether or not HB 859 gains any momentum politically, Florida Republicans are ideologically opposed to any form of marijuana legalization in the state, and current Governor and possible space alien Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi have vowed to put up a staunch opposition. This makes the infighting by Florida Democrats all the more frustrating as this will mark the fourth straight year that Florida has attempted to pass this legislation.
Saunders, while still a little wet behind the ears politically, can see the winds – and polls – shifting in favor of medical marijuana, and rejects any and all claims of his filing of HB 859 as some sort of theater. The bill is named after Cathy Jordan, the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, who has herself suffered from ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) for over 28 years. “This bill puts patients before politics,” Jordan told a crowd assembled at the unveiling of the proposed legislation.
John Morgan, the lawyer in Orlando, isn’t moved by Jordan’s support, and perhaps his true colors were revealed when he told local media that what really upset him was that Rep. Saunders didn’t call for his mighty opinion before drafting the bill.
“I don’t know if Saunders will even get his bill on the agenda,” Morgan boasts. “[I] hope he gets some testimony, but he never called me about it. He never called me about it, so I won’t call him back either when he calls for campaign contributions.”
Wow, good luck Florida. It is petty politics like that which has kept the likes of Rick Scott in power, and has kept cannabis in the closet for so many decades.