TAMPA - Florida's champion for legal medical marijuana may have hurt his own cause with profanity-laced comments caught on a cellphone camera last week.
Now opponents of amendment 2 on the ballot this November are citing the video clip as evidence that medical marijuana is a Trojan Horse for a statewide pot party.
Unable to come up with a snappier name, some called it the "Thrilla in Polk County." It pitted famous personal injury lawyer John Morgan against Polk County's sound bite machine, Sheriff Grady Judd, on marijuana.
"The average marijuana card holder in California is a 32-year-old male. Sounds like a real sick population to me," Judd said sarcastically in Thursday's debate while Morgan thundered.
"They want to sell you Oxycontin which is going to kill you, hook you and destroy families," he said. "No one's paying me. I can't be bought!"
Morgan also can't be censored. After the debate, with a microphone in one hand and a drink in the other, Morgan addressed a gathering of young supporters using language that would come as no surprise to anyone who knows Morgan personally.
"If you m--------ers don't get up and vote, f---- it all, we can't win," said Morgan to screaming approval.
"He's with a bunch of very young people. He's glorifying marijuana use. It's all about a party. It's all about getting high, and it's done in a very disgusting way," said Calvina Fay, executive eirector of Drug Free America in St. Petersburg.
Fay said the video undermines Morgan's claim that amendment 2 is about the compassionate use of medicine.
"He did say as soon as he gets out of Polk County that he might smoke a lot of grass. That's not talking about medicine and compassion. That's talking about getting high and partying," Fay said.
Morgan did make a joking reference to smoking grass after getting out of Judd's jurisdiction, but mostly he tried to get out the vote.
In a statement, Morgan was unapologetic, saying, "I was speaking to a group of young people who I needed to motivate to vote. They were damn sure motivated when I finished. This will not be the last hell-raising speech you'll hear from me."
It's difficult to know if the fallout from this leaked video will erode support for amendment 2, which requires 60 percent approval by voters. But the audience in the YouTube clip shows that there is a crossover between those who support the medical and recreational use of marijuana. It may be impossible to completely separate the two issues.