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Sun Nov 10, 2013, 01:55 PM

(FL) John Morgan: My dying dad's pain inspired push for medical marijuana

John Morgan's dad wouldn't eat. Radiation treatments for his esophageal cancer had burned out Ramon Morgan's throat and deadened his taste buds.

He twisted himself into a fetal position, hallucinating from the pain and drugs he was prescribed and tied to an oxygen tank to help him breathe.

Morgan's younger brother, Tim, who was paralyzed from the neck down in high school, had a suggestion that had helped him: Smoke marijuana.

"The first time he did it, [the housekeeper] made him a pot-roast dinner, and he ate the whole dinner and had a Miller Lite," Morgan recalled. "He said it was a miracle."

This is what Morgan, one of Florida's top political fundraisers, says is driving him to lead the fight to legalize medical marijuana in the state.


Last week, Crist, a lawyer in Morgan's firm, announced his bid for governor in 2014 as a Democrat. Morgan has made it a point since 2010 to keep Crist's face plastered on Morgan & Morgan billboards across the state and is expected to help finance his campaign.

Business groups supporting Gov. Rick Scott's re-election see the marijuana amendment as a mobilization effort for Crist.

"I'm not sure anyone believes him when he says he's doing this just to look out for people in pain or with specific types of diseases," said Dave Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which is opposing the amendment along with the Florida Medical Association and state Sheriffs Association. "Certainly, we're concerned about Charlie Crist's employer and what's motivating him to put this on the ballot."

Crist has said he supports legalizing medical marijuana. And Morgan has admitted asking former Obama campaign strategists whether the amendment would likely have any effect on the 2014 race.

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