Attorney Matt Morgan talks smokable medical marijuana fight on 'The Weekly'

Morgan family also working to raise Florida minimum wage to $15

ORLANDO, Fla. – Well-known Orlando attorney John Morgan of the Morgan and Morgan law firm was instrumental in legalizing medical marijuana in the state but more than two years after the bill's passage, it still doesn't exactly reflect what more than 70 percent of Floridians voted to pass.

Since the amendment's passage in 2016, medical marijuana patients have only been able to access the drug in edible, pill or liquid form after former Gov. Rick Scott banned it from being smoked. However, Scott's successor, Gov. Ron DeSantis, announced last month he wants state lawmakers to pass a bill during Florida's Legislative Session to change Scott's ruling. 

John Morgan's son Attorney Matt Morgan spoke to anchor Justin Warmoth on "The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com" about the ongoing fight to make medical marijuana smokable.

"DeSantis read the language of the amendment and he said clearly this allows smokable marijuana," Morgan said. "When the people of Florida vote for something so overwhelmingly, he's smart to understand that's what they want and you have to give it to them." 

If lawmakers can't resolve the issue by DeSantis' March 15 deadline, there's a possibility he would dismiss the appeals filed under his predecessor that seeks to keep the ban in place.

"You're either going to see a piece of legislation that reflects the will of the people, and if you don't Gov. DeSantis was clear that he's just going to drop the appeal and smokable medical marijuana will be permittable for all residents in the state of Florida," Morgan said.

While the issue of medical marijuana sorts itself out, the Morgan family is also working on a new piece of legislation they hope to have on the 2020 ballot -- raising the state's minimum wage. 

"What we believe is that if you pay somebody an honest and fair wage, then you're going to see a variety of different impacts for our economy," Morgan said. "You're going to see people stay at their jobs longer, you're going to see people coming off of governmental assistance at a rate that we've never seen before, and you're most importantly going to see people living with dignity." 

Florida's minimum wage is currently $8.46 per hour, but the Morgans would like to see it nearly doubled to $15 per hour. The ambitious plan wouldn't happen overnight. Instead, it would increase to $10 per hour the first year, then by a dollar each year until it reaches the $15 mark. 

Critics call the proposed hike a socialist lean, but Morgan insists it's a compassionate lean and one that makes sense.

"If you can work 40 hours a week and make $15,000 a year or you could sit at home and survive off the government, which one would you choose," Morgan said. "This is critical for people to understand. Just to hit the federal poverty line of $25,000, people would need to work 80 hours a week at the minimum wage. That's just not fair." 

The Florida Retail Federation has been outspoken in their opposition of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour because they say it could lead to "difficult decisions" for business owners, including the possibility of reducing jobs.

Morgan believes it's a good business move. In fact, the Morgan and Morgan law firm, which also owns hotels, restaurants and attractions, raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for its more than 3,000 employees. 

"We believe our people are going to be happier when they come to work," Morgan said. "The business community needs to consider that if you pay somebody $15,000 a year, when they leave -- which they will -- you're going to spend $5,000 in turnover costs training somebody, finding somebody, interviewing them, getting them on board, etc. So it makes good business sense to make sure you're not losing employees at a rapid rate." 

Morgan said the ballot language received more than enough signatures from around the state in support of the initiative -- 766,200 are required to send it to the Florida Supreme Court. The court will review the ballot language, and if it's approved, Florida voters will cast their votes on the amendment in 2020. 

Watch the entire conversation with Morgan on "The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com" Sunday at 8 a.m. on News 6. 

Related reading:

Smoke it? Medical marijuana tough to swallow for some in Florida

Committee moves Florida closer to allowing smokable medical marijuana

Gov. DeSantis: Floridians should be able to smoke medical marijuana

John Morgan's $15 ballot initiative going to Florida Supreme Court for review

Florida rings in new laws in 2019


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