Florida's medical marijuana battle - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida's medical marijuana battle

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Moriah Barndhardt, pictured with her daughter, 3-year-old Dahlia, says she believes cannabis can help her daughter combat brain cancer. Moriah Barndhardt, pictured with her daughter, 3-year-old Dahlia, says she believes cannabis can help her daughter combat brain cancer.

John Morgan may be one of the best known attorneys in the state of Florida.

His image appears in ads on the internet, on billboards and he is frequently seen in television ads. Morgan also appears in some of the ads with his family. He seems an unlikely candidate to advocate the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but he is doing just that.

Morgan says he will spend millions of his own money for the cause.

Morgan says there are several reasons he became involved in the effort, "This is a matter of compassion and mercy. This is for people who have really, really bad injuries, really bad diseases and many are terminal."

RELATED STORY: Fla. AG challenges medical marijuana measure

Morgan says he's never smoked pot and even had his children tested for drugs when they were in college.

His opinion on the issue changed when his father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

" My father was a guy, who, I never smoked marijuana in college because I didn't want to disappoint my dad. He was a guy that this would break his heart if I smoked marijuana.", said Morgan.

As his father's condition worsened, Morgan says he watched as he became increasingly ill and could not leave his bed.

"We had a caretaker and a hospital bed, but the nausea was unbelievable, he had no appetite, the anxiety was crazy.", said Morgan.

A family member suggested they try marijuana to help with the nausea and Morgan says his father’s condition was so bad, they were willing to try anything.

"One day I said, Daddy, I know you're not a marijuana guy, but I think this would help you."

Morgan says his father agreed and his condition improved, that night his wife made dinner for his father.

RELATED STORY: New poll finds majority support legalizing marijuana

"I came in to visit him that night. Delores had made him a pot roast, he's sitting there drinking a Miller Lite and it was like transformed."

Morgan's father lived for another seven months.

"His life ended, but the quality of life at the end was one of peace and mercy and so I saw it there."

Critics of marijuana say it's more carcinogenic than tobacco.

Morgan says every drug has its drawbacks.

" First of all, nothing is more poisonous to us than OxyContin, you know everything has a down side. Every drug has a risk."

Moriah Barnhardt has another reason for the use of medical marijuana.

She hopes a divertive of the plant can be used to cure her daughter's brain cancer.

Moriah Barnhart says her three year old daughter Dahlia was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor on May 5th of this year.

Barnhart says she took her daughter to five hospitals and was told it was a stage two brain cancer.

Barnhart says she eventually took her daughter to St. Jude Hospital in Tennessee where she learned the cancer is much more aggressive than originally thought.

Barnhart says, " From that moment that they came back and said she had a mass in her brain, from the day forward, your entire life, everything your life meant, all of your goals and aspirations, your education, your income, all of that becomes completely meaningless."

Barnhart says she wants to take her daughter to a state that will allow doctors to inject cannabinoids into her daughters brain to cure the cancer.

While John Morgan fights to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, Barnhart says she doesn't have time to wait.

"Unfortunately, I've now been put in a situation where I'm now going to have to move to a legal state if this is an option that I want available to me. So, in that respect, any state that would legalize it, is at least a step forward."

John Morgan says he's fighting for the future.

"I'm going to fight to give those people a chance and I'm not going to be scared by people who just want to lock people up and scare us by saying it's a gateway drug."

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