TAMPA — Two well-known foes on the question of medical marijuana will address the issue as part of a public forum Thursday night in Lakeland.
The two men are John Morgan, head of the Morgan & Morgan law firm and the top benefactor of the effort to approve medicinal use of cannabis in Florida, and Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County and president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association, which opposes the proposal.
Morgan and Judd will appear with four other panelists at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison School for the Arts, 750 Hollingsworth Road. The discussion is sponsored by The Ledger newspaper of Lakeland.
Florida voters will face the issue at the polls Nov. 4, when they will vote on Amendment 2. It would require a 60 percent majority to be added to the state Constitution.
The amendment asks whether the Sunshine State should allow the use of marijuana by a person diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition.” It defines that as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
Morgan, whose firm is based in Orlando, has given nearly $4 million to the campaign to legalize medical marijuana. He said his father found relief from the symptoms of cancer and emphysema in the last days of his life thanks to medical cannabis.
Judd has often repeated the sheriffs’ position that the amendment would allow teenagers to obtain medical marijuana and that there would be virtually no restrictions on caregivers who would be allowed to possess marijuana.
Since California approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996, 22 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws through legislation or by citizen initiative. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have approved marijuana for recreational use.
Florida’s Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this spring allowing a specific, non-euphoric strain of marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web” to be prescribed for certain conditions. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and legislative leaders largely oppose expanding the use of medical marijuana.
However, polls have shown Floridians favoring the measure by as much as 88 percent.