Former Gov. Charlie Crist — the guy who also was once known as “Chain Gang Charlie” for his tough stance on crime — received a huge boost to his 2014 gubernatorial campaign this week when the Florida Supreme Court approved the wording of the proposed medical marijuana amendment for the November statewide ballot.
Talk about deviously crafty. That would be John Morgan of “Morgan & Morgan, for the people” fame.
Here’s how it went:
Morgan hired Crist at Morgan & Morgan after Crist’s governorship and U.S. Senate run ended.
Crist officially jumped teams, became a Democrat and, surprise, decided to run for governor as a Democrat.
So then the question became: How? How to beat incumbent Republican Rick Scott? How to persuade Democrats and independents who still may not like Crist, much less Scott, to come out to vote in an off-year for Crist? How to motivate them?
The answer: Voila! Weed.
Morgan masterfully began underwriting much of the efforts to get the medical marijuana amendment on the ballot. He has said he was doing it out of compassion for his brother, who was injured many years ago in an accident, has suffered excruciating pain and also found relief from the use of marijuana. And while that may be true, it’s also clear that Morgan’s compassionate motivations would have a much larger effect — in dollars and in votes — on Morgan’s law partner’s gubernatorial campaign.
Brilliant. Here’s why:
For one, heretofore, Gov. Scott has opposed the medical-marijuana amendment. If he sticks with that position, he’ll likely lose every pot-smoking voter — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. And there are a lot of them.
What’s more, don’t kid yourself. In spite of the always devoted senior vote, who may be most likely to oppose the amendment, the medical marijuana amendment will motivate tepid younger voters.
It will pass. Count on it.
Florida has become part of the national marijuana wave. We can expect the amendment to have strong support from the liberal daily editorial boards and from big-money donors who have been financing legalizing marijuana in other states. Not only will money continue to come from Morgan, we can expect substantial amounts for TV campaigns to come from billionaire financier George Soros and the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug-legalization organization on whose board Soros sits.
Unknown at this point is whether the late Peter Lewis, a Coconut Grove resident and former chairman of Progressive Insurance, left money in his will to back medical-marijuana campaigns. Lewis, a medical-marijuana user himself, over the past decade and a half contributed between $20 million and $40 million to legalizing medical marijuana. He died in November.
But even without Lewis’ money, you can bet Morgan and Crist’s media masterminds will use the medical-marijuana amendment to Crist’s advantage.
We can see the TV campaign now: The famous photo of Crist embracing Obama and a (disingenuously) sincere, emotional Crist telling viewers how everyone should have access to marijuana for medical use.
He’ll do whatever it takes.
After what Crist and Morgan are about to unfold on Floridians, we may all need that medical marijuana.
The gubernatorial campaign is going to be dreadful.
+ Good shepherd: Rev. Porter
He is not a household name on Longboat Key, certainly not in the vein of, say, Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber or Herb Field, respectively, longtime proprietor and founder of the once-grand Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. In fact, he wasn’t even a resident of Longboat Key.
But he made a lasting mark here: The Rev. Bruce Porter, recently retired pastor of Christ Church of Longboat Key.
Christ Church stands tall on Gulf of Mexico Drive as a testament to the strength and enthusiasm of its close-knit, devoted congregation. It was remarkable how that church grew in six years from its modest services in office space at Mediterranean Plaza to its impressive complex on north Longboat Key.
And while Christ Church’s congregants were driving forces behind the construction of the church, the Rev. Porter was their good shepherd. As Christ Church parishioners will tell you, he was the draw, the teacher, preacher and minister who drew and nurtured the flock.
+ A job for Rep. Buchanan
It never ceases to amaze us to read how long it takes for the town of Longboat Key to obtain permits from the state and federal governments for beach renourishments.
Once again, the town finds itself nearing a serious crisis, with erosion threatening properties on the northern tip of the Key. True to form, the town manager has said it may take another six months to obtain federal approval to install permeable groins. Six months too late.
Longboat Key has been renourishing its beaches for more than two decades. What’s so difficult about creating a process to expedite the permits? Now there’s a job for our congressman.
Town center: not a new idea on LBK
The Longboat Key Historical Society met Jan. 31 in the National Bank of Sarasota and heard Jack Whelan, the former town planner, talk about historic preservation.
Whelan told the members present that Longboat Key is actually a string of neighborhoods, each of them slightly different, but none having a focal point.
His definition of a neighborhood was an area that had “character” and that had an existing “portal” through which people passed and could claim they were “home.”
What is the center of town?
The audience was composed of many people who were on Longboat Key in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, and they spoke about the sense of pride they had in their neighborhood, usually the Village.
Whelan said this sense of belonging is partially absent because the town does not have one area it can call the “center of town,” which most neighborhoods have.
He said that if the Town Plaza, as it is known, also had cultural and social activities within its confines, it would then have a center around which all residents could gather. As it is now, Whelan said, residents have no sense of belonging to the town, only to their neighborhood, whether it be a condominium or a single-family home.
Whelan said that residents of Longboat Key must define their island in terms of a vision of what they want it to be, not what they don’t want.
Feb. 7, 1985, Page 9
Key Components of the Medical Marijuana Amendment
The following are excerpts from the full text of the proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendment.
BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.
(1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
(7) “Personal caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. A personal caregiver may assist no more than five (5) qualifying patients at one time. An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility may serve as a personal caregiver to more than five (5) qualifying patients as permitted by the Department. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use by the qualifying patient.
(9) “Physician certification” means a written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician’s professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient.
(1) Nothing in this section shall affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana.
(2) Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.
(3) Nothing in this section allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.
(4) Nothing in this law section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.
(5) Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of education or employment or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.
(6) Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.