Pubdate: Wed, 11 May 2016
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2016 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Jeff Ostrowski


Attorney John Morgan Confident in Voter Turnout.

John Morgan, the deep-pocketed attorney bankrolling the effort to 
legalize medical marijuana in Florida, predicts November's election 
will produce the victory that eluded him two years ago.

Morgan spent more than $4 million on Amendment 2, the measure that 
won support from 57.6 percent of voters in November 2014. It needed 
60 percent to pass.

"I didn't really realize how hard 60 percent was going to be," Morgan 
said Tuesday during a speech at the Marijuana Business Conference in 
Kissimmee. "It is hard - it's a landslide."

This year, Morgan said, the pro-pot push will be boosted by higher 
turnout driven by a contentious presidential election pitting Donald 
Trump against Hillary Clinton. Democratic turnout was low for the 
2014 gubernatorial election race between Gov. Rick Scott and former 
Gov. Charlie Crist.

What's more, Morgan said he expects not to face strong opposition 
from law enforcement. A 2014 debate between Morgan and Polk County 
Sheriff Grady Judd featured Judd's memorable assertion that Amendment 
2 amounted stashing "a joint in every backpack."

Morgan said Judd vowed that the state's sheriffs would not to fight 
Amendment 2 this year.

"They're not going to be for me, but they're not going to be against 
me," Morgan said.

One wild card is how much opponents of medical marijuana spend. In 
2014, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson spent millions on an ad 
blitz in the weeks before the election, far outnumbering the pro-pot spots.

"We didn't spend enough money on TV ads," said Ben Pollara, campaign 
manager of United for Care, the group backing the medical marijuana amendment.

This time, proponents are booking ad time well in advance of the 
election and planning for a last-minute waves of ads. This year, 
Tampa real estate developer Mel Sembler has promised to raise 
millions to fight marijuana legalization.

Inspired by the pain relief his quadriplegic brother feels from 
cannabis, Morgan said he has spent more than $7 million of his 
fortune on marijuana initiatives in 2014 and 2016.

According to Florida law, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis 
is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. 
Florida police arrest more than 50,000 people a year for marijuana possession.
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