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Meet Tim Morgan, the Man Behind John Morgan’s Push for Medical Marijuana

| September 24, 2014

Tim Morgan, left, and the author, Gary Stein. (Gary Stein)

Tim Morgan, left, and the author, Gary Stein. (Gary Stein)

By Gary Stein

John Morgan, the face of Morgan & Morgan, one of the largest law firms in the country, is often portrayed as larger than life. Some days it seems that you can’t turn on your television without seeing his concerned face and Kentucky accent earnestly suggesting, “If you’ve been in an accident, call Morgan & Morgan — For the People.” The phrase is almost as omnipresent as his television ads.

But this year, we have seen him promoting a different cause – the legalization of medical marijuana. He started by putting $4 million of his own money into the petition campaign that ultimately led to a ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment. Now called Amendment 2, it currently awaits the November mid-term elections.


As he continues to promote Amendment 2, he has publicly debated many of the leaders of the opposition to the ballot initiative, including University of Florida professor Kevin Sabet and Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County. There have even been chants of “For the Reefer!” at one of his speeches.

He has been accused of several ulterior motives for his fervent support, from promoting his friend and colleague Charlie Crist’s second run for governor to a plan to make millions in the future from the marijuana industry in Florida. He has joked that he would never put even $1 million into Crist’s campaign, and as far as the secret plan to make millions dispensing medical marijuana, it’s not like he needs the money, after garnering the profits of a law firm that spans seven states.

One of the main reasons he has put his money and efforts into the cause is someone very near and dear to him. Younger brother Tim Morgan doesn’t go to the rallies, but if he did, you would recognize him as the one with the big smile, a wheelchair and a living reason for the need for medical marijuana.

After moving to Florida in the ‘70s from Kentucky, Tim was an energetic senior in high school who took a job at Disney World as a lifeguard. “I was always the funny one,” he recalled, “but I learned that some things in life just aren’t funny.” He was referring to the accident that left him paralyzed.

context floridaTim was on duty when a frantic woman ran to the lifeguard team to tell them that her daughter had gone missing, and she believed that she was last seen along the shoreline near the Polynesian resort. She pointed to the area and Tim dutifully dived in to look. He didn’t know that the area he jumped into had recently been a dock, and the platform had been removed, but the concrete pylons were still under the water. His supervisor dove in when it was obvious that Tim was in trouble, and pulled him ashore, forgetting that the proper procedure would have been to immobilize him on a board. Tim was rushed to the hospital with a severe spinal cord injury.

In the meantime, the girl was found, asleep in her room at the Polynesian. She hadn’t even gone down to the water.

He spent many months in the hospital. He slowly recovered the use of his arms and a small amount of feeling in his legs, but he would never walk again. Disney World, “the most magical place on earth,” fought his workman’s compensation claim. To (literally) add insult to injury, in lieu of a settlement, they offered him a graveyard-shift resort phone agent position. Indignant over Tim’s battle with Disney, big brother John, then 21, decided to go into law, and Morgan & Morgan was born.

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But Tim’s battle had just begun. Even though he couldn’t use his legs, he suffered severe, painful muscle spasms that stiffened his legs and made him break out into a profuse cold sweat. “It would literally knock you out of your chair!” he recalled. His doctors countered with a regimen of 13 different medications, including 4 mg of Xanax each day (normal doses for anxiety are .25 or .5 mg), and medications, including Vioxx and Darvocet, which have been blacklisted. “Who knows what those medications did to me,” he said.

But it wasn’t until he was offered some pot while visiting his girlfriend in college that he found some true relief. “It was almost instantaneous,” he remembered. His pain subsided, the sweat left his brow, and his legs finally relaxed. His pharmaceutical regimen gave him little relief and made it hard to function, but marijuana worked, and he stopped taking all the pills and started living again.

One thing that stands out when you meet Tim is his “joie de vivre.” He has survived his spinal cord injury, a bout of head and neck cancer and has a new pacemaker. He stopped smoking (“after all, I got a 5-year-old daughter in the house”) and takes several squares of chocolate a day. He embraces life and runs one of the largest law firms in the country. You can’t help but smile when he talks to you. He is serious about his work, but he is still the “funny guy” that took the job at Disney and spent his prom night in a hospital bed.

He is the living embodiment for what medical marijuana can do to improve quality of life, and the reason why his big brother John has spent millions of dollars and traveled thousands of miles to debate and promote the effort to make this happen.

It’s for Tim, and, of course, for the people.

Gary Stein, MPH, a native Detroiter, worked for the Centers for Disease Control, landed in the Tampa Bay area to work for the State Tobacco program and is now a health advocate and activist and blogger for the Huffington Post. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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16 Responses for “Meet Tim Morgan, the Man Behind John Morgan’s Push for Medical Marijuana”

  1. PC OG says:

    Funny. Marijuana was originally made illegal because it was the vice of choice for Blacks, mostly those in the Jazz and Blues counterculture. Whites liked their highly addictive, more intoxicating, and more deadly alcohol. Because it would be difficult to mass produce it as a product that would be profitable for Whites, because anybody can grow a plant, it was made illegal.

    Fast forward to now. Now that White guys are discovering how to make big bucks from this, it’s slowly being turned around. Yet, Black guys are tossed in jail left and right for having a couple grams of this plant, a gift of the universe not too unlike corn. Part of me can’t wait till the Chinese takes the country over. All these suppressors and tyrants are going to be very surprised some day soon. They will also feel the yoke they happily put on other people different from them.

  2. rickg says:

    If Amendment 2 fails to pass it would be a great injustice to those who would be helped by medical marijuana. Its properties already help those who suffer seizures and glaucoma patients.. Why would a plant that grows naturally in the ground be declared illegal? Big Pharma and law enforcement agencies that make big bucks oppose it… Its only common sense for this to pass.

    • Gia says:

      The 1972 controlled substances act stated that marijuana as absolutely no medical value.
      …………All propaganda made by Morgan & whom ever & solicitation for the use of this drug is intended for profit only.

      • NortonSmitty says:

        “The 1972 controlled substances act stated that marijuana as absolutely no medical value.”

        Wait. The Government Constantly Lies To You/Everything The Government Says Is True.

        Listening to WingNuts will give you whiplash.

  3. I/M/O says:

    The President’s Director of Drug Enforcement has advised this year that the marijuana being sold today has a 30 TCI content. He made the comparison that the marijuana of years past contained a 2 TCI measurement. That today’s marijuana id therefore 15 times more powerful than the marijuana once used by most Americans.

    The President’s director of Drug Enforcement advised that marijuana of today with a 30 TCI content is highly addictive and causes psychosis and hallucinations in individuals that use it.

    So ask yourself before you vote this November. Do you want this new powerful 30 TCI content marijuana made legally available to anyone. Such as your children or grandchildren. Now one can argue that a Doctor’s prescription will be needed but we all know that if this law passes people will legally purchase marijuana and then re-sell it to children and teenagers.

    Florida parents need to stop this Morgan guy dead in his tracks.

    • Anonymous says:

      I currently use 2-3 joints a day in place of the 240 OxyContin 40 I would otherwise be prescribed. I am able to work because I am alert and aware. I can help my son with his math homework now. I am a better husband to my wife. I took those pills and nearly lost my life and everything dear to me because of the side effects. I respect your opinion. I only ask that you think of the people cannabis does help and the lives of those we touch before you vote.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Anonymous” needs to stand up and be counted. You can help to educate those that need to learn the truth. There is no need to be “anonymous” anymore. The time has come…it is here and now.

    • John Smallberries says:

      This is truly disturbing news, and I’m glad that you’ve mentioned it. By the way, could you tell me what a TCl is?

      I was also trying to find some references in pubmed or an equivalent peer-reviewed journal that detailed the fact that something with a 30 TCl is highly addictive, or that it causes psychosis and hallucinations. I can’t seem to find anything about that, you wouldn’t happen to have those references would you?

      If you’re having problems finding out that information, here’s why. Everything you just posted is nonsense.

  4. m&m says:

    They look like they smoked a little too much of that DRUG.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      You know, you’re right. THOSE BASTARDS LOOK TOO HAPPY!

      Maybe some of the regular Grinches who constantly moan about everything on these pages should roll up a big fatty before they post. Who knows, you might turn so content you will stop voting for all those mean-as-a-snake Republicans you seem to love so much.

  5. Broot says:

    My toe hurts. I’m going to my doctors to get a marijuana card.

  6. Gia says:

    Pure bullshit…..it’s not for the people. Only for profit nothing else.

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    Not to confuse the usual FOX zombie, conservative readers with actual facts, Medical Marijuana helps prevent overdoses of prescription painkillers. This from the Smithsonian:

    SMITHSONIAN.COM
    AUGUST 29, 2014

    In the U.S., 23 states and the District of Columbia allow their residents to legally use medical marijuana. And, according to a new study, death certificates reveal that states with a medical marijuana law have lower rates of deaths caused by narcotic painkiller overdoses than other states.

    Only California, Oregon and Washington had laws effective prior to 1999, the point when the researchers began their analysis. Ten other states put laws on their books between 1999 and 2010. The researchers analyzed each state in the years after a medical cannabis law came into effect.

    Overall, the states with these laws had a nearly 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths. The study was published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    The findings could help address the nation’s growing problem with opioid overdoses—about 60 percent of deaths are people who have prescriptions for the medication. However, the study authors caution that their analysis doesn’t account for health attitudes in different states that might explain the association. They did explore whether policies addressing painkiller abuse had any effect on the decline in deaths and didn’t find a link.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If marajuana is not legal in Florida how does Tim Morgan obtain it?

  9. Mark Storm says:

    It is now a proven fact of the medical benefits of marijuana. Being a chronic pain sufferer myself…I assure you that it is safer than opiods. As for all you fear mongers..I’m sure you probably still believe in movies like reefer madness. Your a good sheep. As for me I will smoke it as I see fit. Live and let live. Otherwise just get a life as your negative uninformed posts simply show your ignorance. Legalizing marijuana is the only common sense choice.

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