Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

John Morgan now admits he hoped pot initiative would help elect Charlie Crist

From Dara Kam and the News Service of Florida:

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a devout Catholic who's spent more than $7.5 million of his and his law firm's money trying to pass a constitutional amendment to broadly legalize medical marijuana, made a confession of sorts this week at the nation's largest pot trade show.

Morgan's proposal, which narrowly failed in 2014 to capture the 60 percent approval required for constitutional amendments to pass in Florida, will be back before voters in November.

Two years ago, Morgan repeatedly brushed off questions about a possible connection between the pot proposal and one of his employees --- former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who was to try to return to the governor's mansion as a Democrat. At the time, Morgan refused to say whether the presence of the pot amendment would boost Crist's chances for an election win.
But during a speech Tuesday at the Marijuana Business Daily semi-annual trade show at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Morgan admitted he maybe wasn't telling the whole truth back then.
"The last time I got into this thing, I got into it before Charlie Crist, a lawyer in my firm, started running for governor," Morgan said. "I will confess that, once I got into it, there was a benefit to having this on the ballot at the same time that a member of my law firm was running for governor of the state of Florida."
“I confess that now,” Morgan said, calling out a News Service of Florida reporter by name.
Morgan, a major Democratic fundraiser who told the audience that former President Bill Clinton visited him at his home last week, quickly backpedaled from his apparent truth telling, however.
“I didn't really lie. What I did was, I said this could be two-for-one, because I started my marijuana deal before Charlie got in the race. … That's the truth. I got real fired up about it because I thought, hey, we could get marijuana and Charlie. So that really motivated me,” Morgan said.

In the end, the marijuana proposal and Crist fell short, with Republican Gov. Rick Scott winning a second term.
Crist, who still works for Morgan and is running for an open Pinellas County congressional seat this year, smiled when told of his boss' comments.
"I tried to be helpful, and was delighted to be helpful to the degree that I could," Crist said during an interview Thursday morning in St Petersburg.
Crist said he believes voters will approve the medical marijuana amendment this fall.
"I think that it's important that it pass," he said. "If you had, like me, a sister who died of brain cancer, or, in John's case, a brother who really struggles, then you understand how this could bring such help to people who truly need it, in the medical sense."

[Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 4:02pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours