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The human side of the big money behind the marijuana amendment

Morgan photo Adelson photoHere's a must-read from the Tampa Bay Times' Stephen Nohlgren on the unlikely relationship between John Morgan and Sheldon Adelson, the two big-money sources behind the Amendment 2 medical marijuana campaigns:

Trial lawyer John Morgan — whose outsized persona is already etched onto Florida's consciousness — said medical marijuana has boosted his celebrity even higher.

At the Orlando airport last week, eight to 10 people stopped him between the plane and his car to thank him for bankrolling the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, Morgan said. "Two or three wanted to have their pictures taken with me."

However, none of that hoopla surprised Morgan as much as an email that arrived three months ago from Nevada.

It came from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who had just donated $2.5 million to defeat Amendment 2 — instantly counterbalancing Morgan's wealth in the fight over medical pot.

"I was stunned,'' Morgan said. "He told me that I was all wrong.''

With his typical thick skin and glib patter, Morgan was delighted to respond — setting off an ongoing email exchange that now has the two titans on a first name basis, and a possible face-to-face meeting next month in Las Vegas.

"I like him a lot. He's a self-made man,'' said Morgan, 58. "He's is one of the most generous men on the face of the earth.''

Adelson, 81, did not respond to requests for comment on his marijuana stance or the emails he and Morgan have exchanged.

But Adelson's background provides a glimpse into what may have motivated one of the world's richest people to jump into the medical marijuana fray.

In 2005, Adelson's 48-year-old son Mitchell died in Fort Myers. Adelson's wife Miriam told Israel's Haaretz newspaper that her stepson, a long-time heroin and cocaine addict, overdosed. More here.

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