John Morgan

Greene on ganja: Are the kids alright?

IMG_0236Jeff Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire who this week joined a crowded slate of Democrats seeking to replace Gov. Rick Scott, shared his thoughts about marijuana with Truth or Dara during a lengthy interview that included some chit-chat about Willie Nelson and air pods.

(Spoiler alert: He’s a fan of both the musician and the technology).

On medical marijuana, Greene’s got the same take as his competitors, who’ve all come out in support of allowing patients to smoke their treatment.

But the father of three young boys is on the fence about flat-out legalization of recreational pot. Greene says he wants more data about what’s happened in other states that have legalized marijuana before he decides.

Saying he “always likes to learn from other people,” Greene wants to look at states such as Colorado, where recreational has been legal for more than a minute.

Greene’s biggest worry is his three young sons, who are now ages four, six and eight.

“They grow up so quickly. When I think of recreational marijuana being legal, I just imagine my son in four or five years,” said Greene.

Perhaps his 13-year-old son is visiting a friend and comes across “a pack of marijuana cigarettes” left around the house by a relative or friend, Greene posited.

“Is he going to say, hey, let’s try this,” Greene wondered.

“So the biggest worry I have is, again, as a father with young children, and someone whose candidacy is largely based on kids and getting kids great educations and having equality of opportunity for all Floridians, and as someone who’s focused on kids.

My view would be, let’s look at the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and let’s understand if there’s been an increase in consumption among young people. If there has, I have to say I definitely want to decriminalize it but I would not legalize it so fast,” he said.

But if the kids are OK, Greene said the state should go for it.

“If there has been no uptick in use whatsoever among young people, I’d say absolutely legalize it, regulate it. That way people who are using it know what they’re getting. Tax it, get some revenue, use the revenue from that to attack the real drug problem, which is the opioid crisis, which is epidemic in our state, in our country,” he said. “It’s something I want to look at very intelligently, just like in education. I look at the states that have done a great job, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and think, what can we learn from them here in Florida to make our education top five in the country?”

When Truth or Dara asked Greene where he stands on the marijuana issue (both smokable and recreational) he prefaced his response with: “This is my position. It didn’t come from any poll or research. It’s just how I feel.”

Greene, 63, said that medical marijuana has “proven to be an enormous help” to sick people.

“These are people who have cancer, who are really struggling. If it helps relieve their pain, how can we possible not let them get it, in any way they want to ingest it,” he said.

People have been smoking marijuana “for generations now,” Greene said, adding that he doesn’t believe that allowing patients to smoke pot will result in more pot being available for people to use recreationally.

Smoke is an issue, of course, because of a legal tangle over a state law prohibiting smokable medical marijuana. Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban runs afoul of the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida, but Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is appealing the decision.

“On medical, I say make it available. If they want to smoke it, if they want to swallow it, whatever they want to do, but, if it helps them, please Rick Scott, please Republicans, stop hurting these people. These are people who are very sick often, and it’s just horrible that they’re restricting their ability to get pain relief,” he said.

 

 

Scott drops $3.2 million on TV this week in “dogfight” against Nelson

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan told us this morning that incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson “is in for a dogfight” against Rick Scott, the Republican outgoing governor who’s trying to oust the veteran senator.

Judging by the amount of money Scott’s campaign dropped on TV ads this week alone, Morgan’s characterization of the race may be an understatement.

According to Scott’s camp, they dropped $3.2 million on TV spots this week alone — including on two Spanish-language ads as the governor relentlessly woos Hispanic voters.

That brings to $8 million the total Scott’s campaign has spent on television in a little more than a month since he announced his entry into the race.

The latest ad, “Cambiar,” focuses on Scott’s pledge to “change” Washington.

We did notice that the two Spanish-language ads feature some of the same stars, but no matter.

A second ad, “Presente,” tambien en español, highlights Scott’s efforts to aid Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The third ad relies on an English-speaking cast of characters who blast Nelson for, well, being too much of a Democrat and “voting the party line.”

Which is a bit odd, since — until this year, when he supported a school-safety measure that included some gun restrictions — Scott had never been viewed as a politician who was known for bridging the partisan divide.

 

John Morgan: “If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried”

IMG_0124Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan held court with reporters moments before a hearing in a lawsuit he initiated kicked off Wednesday morning.

Morgan is a political rainmaker who largely bankrolled the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida and was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly two years ago.

Morgan, who had toyed with the notion of running for governor, spoke about his decision to stay out of the governor’s race.

“I’ll tell you. To run for governor, you’ve got to be done making money. And I’m not done making money. Or you have to be a professional politician. And I’m not a professional politician,” he said.

Morgan said he spoke yesterday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach Miami who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” he said, standing outside the courtroom.

Morgan also said he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race.

Morgan said Corcoran visited him a few weeks ago.

“I said, look, here’s the deal. It’s all about money. And if you don’t got the money, you can’t run. I said at the end of the day, questions answer themselves. And I think the question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up,” Morgan said.

While Corcoran is a friend and someone he would have helped, Morgan said the Land O’ Lakes Republican made the right choice.

“I think he made the right decision because I think he would have gotten beat and I think he knew he was going to get beat. And if I’m going to get beat, I don’t like to go to my own ass-kicking,” Morgan said.

Morgan also had what appeared to be a dim view of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s odds against challenger Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny, a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money, and he’s got the message, and if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried,” he said.

 

Marijuana patient database hits 100,000 mark on 4/20 day. Coincidence?

purple bud.JPGAccording to Sigmund Freud, accidents don’t exist.

So how to explain the state’s medical marijuana patient database hitting the magical 100,000 mark on 4/20, better known as “weed day” among acolytes of the Grateful Dead, Phish and whoever else pot aficionados are listening to these days. (We could give you the soundtrack to our cloudy college days, but we’ll spare you.)

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, Florida patients may have as much to mourn as to celebrate.

The state’s pot czar, Christian Bax, and his troupe have yet to finalize rules regulating the state’s rapidly growing pot industry.

But, worse yet, major marijuana-related lawsuits — including one initiated by Amendment 2 big daddy John Morgan — have a long way to go before they’re settled.

Morgan’s suit, which features marijuana patient-icon Cathy Jordan as a plaintiff, challenges a state law passed last year that bans patients like Jordan from smoking cannabis. Vaping makes Jordan, who has ALS, gag, and her doctors have recommended smoking as the best route of administration.

Meanwhile, Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner — who revolutionized the “gentleman’s club” industry in Florida — won a victory from Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers, who gave the 77-year-old lung cancer survivor permission to grow his own weed for juicing purposes.

Redner’s doc says that eight ounces of whole plant juice daily — which would take about three pounds of raw plant material, or about 40 plants in varying stages of growth — is the best way for his patient to keep his cancer in remission.

The state quickly appealed Gievers’s decision, and it’s unknown whether the appellate court will let him move forward while the case is under appeal.

The legal challenges are only a few of the issues facing the pot industry. Medical marijuana purveyors are having a hard time finding retail locales to ply their wares, and some in the industry are complaining there aren’t enough doctors to handling a quickly growing patient base.

But, hey, it’s 4/20 day, so, sit back, crank up whatever, and chill.

What keeps John Morgan (who’s not Mother Theresa) up at night?

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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.

Morgan ready to sue state over smokable pot

budOrlando trial lawyer John Morgan appears prepared to make good on threats to sue the state over implementation of the constitutional amendment, which he bankrolled, that legalized marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

“Great Scott!! I’ll be filing my lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law. Independence Day 🇺🇸 #NoSmokeIsAJoke,” Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) promised on Twitter today.

Morgan’s tweet references a quote from Gov. Rick Scott, who pledged to sign into law a measure (SB 8A), passed by lawmakers during the special session earlier this month, that lays out the framework for the constitutional amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in November.

Morgan has vowed to sue over the issue of whether patients should be able to smoke the marijuana treatment.

Despite Morgan’s threats, the proposal now awaiting Scott’s signature bans smoking of marijuana, but it does allow patients to vape marijuana products.

In a recent interview, Morgan said that’s not good enough.

“(Smoking) clearly was called for in the amendment, and so what they’ve done for me is allowed me to step back up on my soapbox and go get what the people of Florida wanted when they passed this bill with 71 percent,” Morgan, who is mulling a bid for governor next year, told The News Service of Florida  after the Legislature signed off on the proposal on June 9.

John Morgan on weed, caps and “gross” politics

IMG_0610Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan weighed in on the medical marijuana measure approved by lawmakers Friday afternoon, pledging yet again to sue the state over the ban on smoking as a treatment option for patients.

The legislation also caps the number of dispensaries each marijuana operator can run at 25. Vendors can buy dispensary “slots” from each other, making it possible for them to exceed the caps.

Morgan, a major Democratic fundraiser who is mulling a bid for governor next year, shrugged off the caps.

“I don’t think any of the patients care about the caps. When you get right down to it, marijuana’s marijuana. They’re trying to make this like craft beer, with flavors like orange blossom and honey,” Morgan said.

Morgan — who’s eager to plunk some major greenbacks into the green rush — predicted that competition will resolve the cap issue.

“At the end of the day, the way things work in America is that the weak go away and the strong survive,” he said.

The focus on the caps “was all about money and profit and nothing about the patients,” Morgan said, adding that he isn’t concerned about the caps, which are scheduled to sunset in 2020.

While he may not care about caps, Morgan’s on fire about the ban on smoking. He pledged to make good on his threat to sue the state over the issue, saying that voters clearly expected to be able to smoke marijuana as a treatment when they overwhelmingly supported the measure in November.

Asked about a provision in the bill that forces health officials, when choosing new marijuana operators, to give special preference to applicants currently or previously involved in “the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses,” Morgan called it “gross.”

“It’s just pay to play. It’s politics. It’s everybody crowding around the sugar cube trying to get some sugar. It’s kind of gross but then again politics is really gross. If you’re on the receiving end, you’re happy about it. If you’re on the losing end, you’re not,” he said.

Morgan plans to “invest heavily” in the industry he’s largely responsible for introducing to Florida.

“I believe that this is going to be a gigantic industry for a very good purpose and I like the idea now, after shilling it for all these years, I like the idea of being in it. And I’m a capitalist,” Morgan, whose portfolio includes law offices in a number of other states and theme parks.

Finally, Morgan said he’s content to stay on the sidelines while the 2018 governor’s race heats up.

“I believe I’m much better off watching the field run and expand,” he said. “I’m lucky that I don’t have to do what they have to do, which is go out and give speeches in the back room of Denny’s at 7 a.m. in the morning for $25 donations, and then spend that money for name recognition,” said Morgan, whose visage — and name — is featured on billboards and TV ads throughout the state. “I don’t have to do that. I have the luxury to wait until next spring if I want.”