Leading Florida Funder Backs Campaign to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The prominent lawyer is optimistic that a recreational marijuana measure will easily pass with support from the state’s nascent medical cannabis industry.

Prominent Orlando lawyer John Morgan, who funded efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Florida in 2016, is now putting his resources behind recreational legalization.

“Quit messing around with it, quit dipping our toe in the pool,” Morgan said. “Just be done with it, legalize it, and tax it.”

“This is a job creator,” he added. “This is a tax creator, and this is good for our agriculture community. The whole thing should be legal. Nobody should go to jail for smoking a joint. Nobody should go to jail for eating a gummy.”

A recreational marijuana referendum needs 800,000 valid signatures by February 1st of next year to be placed on the 2020 ballot.

Separate efforts funded in-part by MedMen are underway to secure ballot placement for recreational legalization next year. Also, the advocacy group Regulate Florida announced last month that it had collected enough signatures to initiate the state Supreme Court’s review of its recreational marijuana initiative.

Morgan is a prominent personal injury attorney who self describes himself as “Pot Daddy.” In 2016, he funded a successful public ballot effort in Florida to add an amendment to the state constitution legalizing medical marijuana. The measure passed with 71 percent of the vote. He is optimistic that a recreational legalization initiative will pass with similar levels of support with help from the state’s medical cannabis businesses.

He considered it a victory when current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) conceded in his fight opposing medical marijuana being smoked earlier this year.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed that 65 percent of Floridians support legalization.

Morgan has also recently been in favor of a referendum that would raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. Advocates recently collected sufficient signatures for the measure to qualify for ballot placement next year.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikkie Fried, who won bipartisan support in last year’s election due to her strong support of medical marijuana, is likely to support recreational legalization, but has yet to come out publicly doing so.

The Florida Sheriffs Association, which opposed referendum efforts in 2016, plans to oppose further steps toward legalization. The Florida Medical Association, the state arm of the national trade group for doctors, also opposed the referendum in 2016, but has not commented on recent efforts.

Budding Support for Marijuana

Legalization efforts are also underway in Idaho, where advocates are currently collecting signatures for a ballot initiative. In Arizona, a recreational marijuana legalization ballot initiative has been filed with the Arizona Secretary of State.

Nine of the 11 states with legalized recreational marijuana did so through a ballot referendum. Only Vermont and Illinois legalized adult-use cannabis through the legislative process.

New Jersey and New York sought to pass it via legislation earlier this year but failed.

Marijuana’s Legal Status

Learn more about cannabis laws in the U.S. and keep up with the latest cannabis industry news.