Millionaire medical marijuana financier John Morgan brought his message to some of the area's most active conservatives during a meet-and-greet and forum with the Young Republican club of Tampa.
"I think you can be very conservative on social issues, and on fiscal issues. But when it comes to personal freedom, and acts of compassion which this is, I think that's what's going to surprise the Republican Party of Florida," said Morgan.
During cocktail hour, young Republicans insisted their party has to get more casual.
"I think you have to at some point start to consider what is going to get the votes and what is going to be good for the state and the economy," said Tampa resident Michelle Sassouni.
Florida GOP leaders have stalled medical marijuana bills year after year.
"We are the party of small government, personal responsibility," said Adam Smith. "This is all about that. Standing in the way of this, in my opinion, defeats the whole purpose of being a Republican."
Polls show more than two-thirds of Floridians support an amendment, backed by Morgan's People United for Medical Marijuana.
Morgan argued that it's no more dangerous than painkillers, that someone in the crowd would one day need it and that it could bring in new tax revenue.
Tampa city council candidate Guido Maniscalco - who is not a Republican, argues it's a generational thing. National polls show a 10 point shift in favor since last year.
"My generation is growing up. My generation is more open-minded, and we are looking at what makes sense," said Maniscalo.
An amendment needs 60 percent of support to pass. Morgan believes they're close. That's why he spent the evening encouraging conservatives to support it.
"In politics and life, if you play not to lose, you lose. You have to play to win," he said.
Smith said medical marijuana cuts across party lines.
"I see this as a patients' rights issue," he said. "This is not a republican issue. This is not a democratic issue."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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