OpEd: Stone and Morgan Partner on Pot Passion

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Right: Roger Stone. Left: John Morgan, photo courtesy of Lizzie Ochoa.

Florida is fortunate to have two political leaders on opposite extremes of the political spectrum team together as advocates for the rescheduling of marijuana.

Roger Stone is a seasoned veteran of American political wars, whose career led to a captivating Netflix documentary release earlier this year. A lightning rod on many issues and a passionate libertarian, Stone lives locally and helped advise Scott Israel on his campaign for sheriff of Broward County.

Still, Stone is more recognized for his friendship and allegiance to Richard Nixon, so much so that his back bears a tattoo of Nixon's face. Stone has come into the public eye more recently as an associate and advisor to some guy named Donald Trump, a New York businessman who became last fall, oh, the President of the United States.

Meanwhile, John Morgan, a personal injury lawyer known from one coast of Florida to the other, singularly launched and virtually underwrote a statewide campaign in 2016 to help pass a constitutional amendment allowing for medical marijuana here in the Sunshine State. Morgan is a fighter. Defeated with the initiative in 2014, he dug in, dug deeper, and was not denied last year.

Morgan is a politically connected lawyer, who funded and befriended, amongst others, Hillary Clinton, a woman also close to Stone's heart, with a slight difference. Stone, you see, would like to pierce Clinton's heart. He may have even created for Trumpet the frightening 'Lock Her Up' mantra. So this being Florida, it is perfectly natural the two of them would team up on the issue specific cause of rescheduling Cannabis. I support their efforts.

The two have formed an association titled the United States Cannabis Association and have prudently partnered with a bipartisan coalition of professionals to advance the cause of rescheduling, creating a distinguished advisory board.

I was asked to serve on it with them but as the Vice Chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, I have to avoid conflicts of interest or embracing multiple organizations seeking the same goal. Still, I have to admire the fact that two persons of countervailing ideologies and opposite interests are willing to come together for a common purpose. Joints unite us.

I grew up with Al Lowenstein, a Long Island congressman in the 1960's as a mentor, and a most liberal Democrat was he. His best friend though was an eminently conservative and very scholarly William F. Buckley, who he debated frequently on a PBS Show called 'Firing Line.' And when Tip O 'Neil was the Democratic speaker of the House, he and Ronald Reagan had no problem socializing and sharing dinner and drink. It's the way it was.

One of the difficulties in today's political world is that no one wants to talk to each other. Morgan, a good old Southern boy you want to have a drink with, does it better than Stone. For example, the other night, after His Emperor the Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Stone went on Twitter to depict a visual of a police dog attacking a vagrant beachgoer, shouting 'Liberals, eat shit.' That's no way to build relationships.

Roger, you are making things more difficult daily. I just don't think John McCain will burn in hell because he joined a bipartisan group of legislative leaders who censured Trump for pardoning a racist sheriff prematurely.

The Cannabis reform community is aghast at this marriage of Morgan and Stone. Morgan points out that politics makes strange bedfellows. On the other side, drug law reformers remind us that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. "And," said one group in pulling out of a conference where Stone was slated to talk, "none of us need friends who act like pigs and call us pigs."

So how do you bridge the gap? Or do you even try?

First and foremost, I think you come together to speak out on only one targeted and limited purpose, and trespass nowhere beyond. In this case you simply say a cross section of leaders with varying political beliefs, support the rescheduling of federal marijuana laws.

Second, you showcase your unity on social media to show that regardless of your political leanings, extremely different though they may be, the Cannabis community cuts a unifying swathe across the country, and is both cross cultural and cross sectional. Young or old, black or white, right or left, Americans love their weed.

For a moment, make believe you are in an 18 foot ditch with two guys you utterly hate. Water is filling in. The only way out is if each stands on top of the shoulder of the other. Then the first guy out gets a rope to pull the other up. No one drowns and you all get out. Or you can defiantly refuse to work together and you all die.

OK, maybe you think the first guy will get out and leave and watch you drown because a leopard won't change his stripes. True that; the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. However, life is risky, and you must take chances. I know, you also make choices, and why join a party where the host hates you?

This is the conundrum both liberals and conservatives face in this unholy alliance. Frankly, the drug reformers in private associations that don't want to hear from Stone have that right. They can withdraw the invitation. It's not a government agency requiring due process. Stone should be used to it. His own ideological partners at the Conservative Political Action Conference shut him down when he and Peter Thiel tried to represent the gay rights group there a few years ago, GOProud. But there is my point. As a libertarian, some of Stone's views may philosophically align with your own. Personally, he may repulse you. Well, face it, most Republicans do.

Me, I don't care if a dozen Nazis march in my neighborhood, as long as 12,000 of my best friends can drown them out. The first amendment has to stay strong because you are learning this year what happens when Nazis run your government and white supremacists have offices in the White House.

Look, if you let this administration choose who had a right to march in Arizona, do you think gays, transgender people or Latinos would be chosen? We represent a majority today that was yesterday a minority. Let no one shut down either. Let diversity and disagreement reign. A democracy can withstand critique and criticism.

Roger Stone can be charming, from his eclectic personality to his clothing line. He can also be terrifying. John Morgan is a personal injury lawyer, a profession not particularly thought of with high esteem. Pot has changed him. People appreciate his courage and conviction; that he put his money where his mouth was. He also is a bit controversial, but if you are tired of hiding joints under your car seat, he is the candidate for you.

If he becomes governor next year, you can bet the monopolistic, draconian, offensive and repressive regulatory scheme our legislature has set up under the medical marijuana amendment will be struck down. Your medical needs have become his passion.

As for Roger Stone, the fashionista, if he can cajole Trump into rescheduling Cannabis while pissing me and every one of my friends off with his criminal and conspiratorial theories about the Bush Crime Family and the Clinton Cartel, he can scream and shout till he is blue in the face.

I just want pot to be legal. So do you, so suck it up for now. Who knows, maybe he is a masochist at heart- if he has one.

Choose your poison, a strange bedfellow or handcuffs? Guess in the gay community you can have both though....


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