The National Cannabis Industry Association historically has been effective in promoting the common sense notion of legalizing cannabis for medical treatment. It was in a big part their leadership that successfully helped legalize cannabis for medical purposes in Colorado and Washington.
What went wrong in Ohio is that the legalization effort was easily attacked because of the fact that a few not necessarily respected wealthy individuals became the face in the amendment fight.
Not only did that scare prominent advocacy groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project away from the effort, but more importantly those few self-promoting individuals became the face of the amendment effort.
Floridians experienced the same kind of failure in their effort to legalize medical cannabis for the same reason Ohio experienced their failure. When the fight is being led by self promoting individuals, the legalized cannabis effort typically ends in a train wreck.
It is a train wreck unfortunately that causes serious suffering both for individuals who could benefit from medical marijuana and for all of the decent people who devote so much of their energy and resources towards making legalized medical cannabis a reality.
In Florida when the medical marijuana amendment fight began, 88% percent of the Florida voters agreed that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes was a good idea. At one point, in fact, the approval rate had reached almost 90%.
But then personality became the focus and the entire process began looking like a fraternity food fight.
Most people outside of Florida have never heard the name John Morgan, but his name will forever be associated with helping to defeat an important amendment measure that would have improved the lives of so many Floridians.
Morgan became the unofficial spokesman for Florida’s amendment movement, and within months of his self-appointed poster boy involvement, the huge inroads that had been made through a grassroots effort plummeted and the approval numbers on the amendment fell from 88% to a dismal 44%.
By the time the amendment vote took place, there was no time to regain the high ground and the amendment narrowly failed.
Newspapers all over Florida placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of John Morgan and his inability to control his bizarre, oddball, creepy antics as he held himself out as the self-appointed poster boy for legalized medical cannabis.
Let me share an example of the insane antics that Florida’s media had a field day with. This drunken creepy rant became the focus of the fight.
In addition to what you just saw the media focused on Morgan’s history of DUIs and peculiar, almost delusional and grandiose character qualities.
Morgan turned the medical marijuana amendment into his personal mission and made it all about himself.
Going forward, there is a lesson here. If medical marijuana amendment fights are to succeed, then the well-meaning, hard-working grassroots machine should never let their effort become commandeered by individuals who have agendas more about their personal goals and needs and less about the people who could best benefit from the remarkable possibilities of something as important as medical cannabis.