It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan — who bankrolled the medical marijuana constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November — admits he’s no saint.
“I am not Mother Theresa. I’m not Pope Francis. I’m John Morgan … I describe myself as a compassionate capitalist,” Morgan told reporters gathered outside the Leon County Courthouse Thursday morning.
Morgan’s confession came in response to a question about criticism that, since getting the marijuana initiative into the state constitution, he’s expressed interest in getting in on the state’s green rush.
Morgan — in the Capitol city Thursday to hold a press conference after filing a lawsuit challenging a new law that bans patients from smoking marijuana — has boatloads of business interests, including theme parks and hotels, throughout the country.
“I wake up every day, and my 100 percent effort is to make money, and lots of it. And I’m never going to apologize for it,” he said. “If people want to criticize me for making money, we’ll they’re going to able to criticize me until the day I die.”
While Morgan’s money-making tendencies are to be expected, what troubles the Orlando lawyer — whose visage is plastered all over buses and bill boards throughout Florida — might not be.
When asked about an effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to collect voter information data from states, Morgan — who is mulling a run for governor — seemed unaware of the issue.
“It’s a ping-pong ball for me with this administration. I spend most of my time worried about North Korea, to tell you the truth. What keeps me up at night is that crazy little dude in North Korea playing Russian roulette with us. I’m not that interested (in the voting issue),” Morgan said.
Morgan said he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll run for governor next year, but, as he has in the past, said he isn’t likely to show his cards for a while.
“Some days hot, some days cold,” he said, when asked where he stands on a gubernatorial run. “I’m going to think about it … Remember when you wanted to ask somebody out on a date? You kind of knew whether they were going to say yes or no before you asked them out. So, if I feel that way, maybe I will. I see no advantage to me announcing today, or anytime close to today. All of the people that have announced are doing things I would hate to be doing, having coffee klatsches and bullshitting people and telling everybody what they want to hear, no matter what their position is, in the klatsch, and raising money. I have an advantage, which I have name ID, for better or for worse … So I don’t have the need to do it.”
Morgan, a Democrat, likened his situation in what could be a crowded gubernatorial field to his position as a racehorse owner.
“I’m going to have the advantage of letting the race take off, come all the way around, and I don’t have to make a decision until the horses are all coming down the stretch. Wouldn’t you love to bet that way? You could make a lot of money. … So that’s how I’m looking at all of this,” he said.
Morgan also said he’s gearing up for a 2020 ballot initiative to raise Florida’s minimum wage, but he hasn’t settled yet on what the amount should be.
The proposal is now being drafted, Morgan said Thursday.
“The one thing that I know for a fact is, whether you’re a Bernie Sanders voter or a Donald Trump voter, what people were really mad about was that they get up every day, they do all the right things. They work their asses off. And when they come home, they’re worse off than when they left the door,” Morgan said.
“What’s going on in America, really, is we have slave labor — some people tell me, don’t use that word — in terms of undocumented workers. Thirteen to 14 million people are really living in slave labor. They are paid under the table. They have to buy food from the canteen. Sometimes they owe more to the agriculture people than they made all week. Then we come back to sub-slave labor, where people are working for $7 or $8 an hour, paying taxes, and there’s nothing left over. … So my response to this is rising tides lift all boats,” he said.
Morgan joked (we think) that he could use his chops getting the medical marijuana initiative passed to launch a cottage industry.
“I learned a lot of lessons in this process. I may spend the rest of my life doing ballot initiatives. Just, every two years, pick off somebody else’s problem,” he said.