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Just a Minute, Mr. Morgan

August 12, 2013 - 6:00pm

Tampa superlawyer John Morgan has pledged to put a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would let doctors prescribe marijuana to patients who might derive some medicinal benefits from it.

At the same time, Mr. Morgan plans to install his employee Charlie Crist in the governor's mansion. Mr. Crist, who "works" at Morgan's law firm, can be seen on billboards but not in any courtrooms.

Morgan recently decided to junk 30,000 good signatures that had been drafted to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot and have a law professor rewrite the medical marijuana amendment. The redraft says that if the amendment passed and Florida's notoriously right-wing Legislature failed to authorize the opening of the dispensaries, a sick or dying patient could ... sue.

The redrafted amendment makes no provision for an individual who is ill to grow and harvest their own plants or have a caregiver grow a minimum number of plants for them as other states that have legalized marijuana have done.

When I raised this question in an oped piece, Ben Pollara, a lackey of Mr. Morgan pointed out that "the amendment says that, if the state doesn't act within nine months, physicians could recommend marijuana to a qualifying patient anyway. And qualifying patients, such as Bradenton-area activist Cathy Jordan, would be allowed to possess and use the drug under state law."

Not so. People who are sick or dying would still be subject to the 2009 Florida Marijuana Eradication Act, which still provides for a minimum five-year jail sentence for possession of just 1 ounce of marijuana. And who pushed and signed this harsh law? Why, that would be Gov. Charlie Crist!

Charlie Crist pushed the harshest anti-pot laws in the nation.

Even with a doctor's prescription, there is no guarantee that sheriffs offices and police departments would hesitate to send in jack-booted swat teams to kick down doors and arrest those who are growing and confiscate their medicine. The Manatee County sheriff's office did exactly that to valiant marijuana activist Cathy Jordan and her husband only months ago. Jordan suffers from ALS. Because of the public uproar, no charges were filed against this brave woman and her husband.

Indeed, a 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union that details marijuana-possession arrest rates in the United States from 2001 to 2010 shows Florida is among the nation's leaders in marijuana possession arrests. And marijuana possession laws are disproportionately enforced against blacks.

Florida had the third most total arrests for marijuana possession in 2010 (57,951) and the country's 11th highest arrest rate for marijuana possession (308 per 100,000) in 2010.

Miami-Dade County had the ninth most arrests for possession of any county in the country, and Broward and Orange Counties had the 16th and 23rd most arrests, respectively.

Researchers also found that blacks in Florida were arrested for marijuana possession at more than four times the rate of whites, and they accounted for more than 46 percent of marijuana possession arrests. Crist brags about his support among black voters -- who clearly don't know what he did to their community.

Now, suddenly, Charlie Crist tells Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times he is for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. One can only conclude that Mr. Morgan's ruse of putting a flawed proposal on the ballot is a wedge issue designed to turn out the vote for Mr. Crist -- and sick and dying people are merely a pawn in this sorry political game.

Roger Stone is a legendary American Republican political consultant who has played a key role in the election of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Stone is the author of "The Man Who Killed Kennedy -- the Case Against LBJ" (Skyhorse).

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