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John Morgan writes a ‘big check’ to get medical marijuana amendment 2.0 up and running

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John Morgan just wrote a “big check” to get a second medical marijuana ballot initiative off the ground.

And a big check it was. $150,000.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to put medical marijuana back to the people of Florida to make it your decision,” Morgan said in a video statement posted on the website for his group, United for Care.

Morgan said it won’t be the last check he writes, but implores supporters to write their own big checks.

The funding will go first toward paying for a massive petition drive to gather enough signatures statewide to force another constitutional amendment in 2016. Once ballot language is finalized, campaign funds will pay for key advertisements and educational outreach dispelling messages from critics.

“We were outspent last year 3 to 1 and that hurt us. But this time we’re not going to be — and we have more time to answer the lies and falsehoods that, without question, will come from those who will do anything to obstruct reasonable access,” Morgan wrote in an email.

The outspending came primarily from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who pumped $5 million of his own outside money into the Florida campaign to squash medical marijuana in 2014.

Despite being grossly out-funded, Amendment 2 only lost by two points. Worse for critics of the effort, Morgan and his United for Care campaign managed to draw down 58 percent of the vote. In most states that would have been an overwhelming victory, but in Florida constitutional amendments require 60 percent of the vote.

“Tallahassee politicians, we know what they’re all about. They didn’t hear the 58 percent of the people of Florida that said we want this in an off-year election,” Morgan said in the video as he signed his check. “2016 is a presidential year and it’s going to happen then. They can’t even get along with each other. They adjourn without doing our business. So we got to take care of our business for them.”

Morgan was referring to the Florida House of Representatives and its unprecedented early adjournment during this past legislative session. The move left a medical marijuana legislative measure that would have similarly provided marijuana access to patients in need.

“’This is something that is best handled by the Legislature,’ our opposition (and numerous legislators) said last year,” Morgan wrote in his email. “Well, despite our best efforts to work with them, the Legislature sat on their hands.”

Now Morgan promises to see the fight through and ensure medical marijuana comes to Florida. It’s not his typical slogan, but Morgan said, “this is the people’s business.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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