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Why An Orlando Attorney Supports Medical Marijuana

NPR/ Flickr

On Nov. 4, state voters will decide whether to make medical marijuana legal.

The proposed constitutional amendment got enough petition signatures to make it onto the ballot and it also survived a Florida Supreme Court challenge by state Attorney General Pam Bondi.

John Morgan is an Orlando-based personal injury attorney who spearheaded the drive under the "United For Care" campaign.

Here he talks about what led him to the decision to start the effort to legalize medical marijuana.

Q: At some point, you had to wake up one morning and say, "Medical marijuana is a cause I just have to get behind." What led you to this decision?

A: Well, it's like any kind of health care issue. ... Whether it's juvenile diabetes or cystic fibrosis, you always wonder, "What made [a person] gravitate to that charity?" And it's usually an experience. A family experience. So, for me, I had two family experiences: One, my dad 21 years ago and my brother, for the last 30-something years. He's a quadriplegic and uses [marijuana] to help with his pain and spasms, so that's what drew me to the cause and to all the people who suffer but really don't have anybody advocating for them.

Q: Here you are, an attorney on one side of the law and here's something that at least in Florida right now is illegal. And yet, it's your family. That's got to tear you apart.

A: It's frustrating because you know what's right you know what works. I don't know why it works. I don't know why water works, either, it just does. And you know what the alternatives are, which are poisonous narcotics and drugs that kill and drugs that addict. It's such an easy no-brainer, but you wonder, "Why did I have to do it this way? Why couldn't our legislators have done it another way?"

Q: You're a pretty mainstream Orlando-area, Central Florida guy. Were your worried that if you came out in favor of something this controversial it would hurt your law practice -- hurt your standing in the community?

A: I was. Actually, when I first started it, I was, selfishly thinking, "What would the backlash be? Am I stepping into a land mine that I don't see coming?" So I was very nervous. I was worried what it could do to my practice. But now, almost a year later, I'm more emboldened and positive and happy that I've done what I've done.

Q: And you think medical marijuana is going to pass?

A: 100 percent.

Hear the full interview here: