Saying Floridians knew what they were voting on in November, Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan on Thursday followed through on threats to sue the state over a smoking ban included in a new law carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.
Morgan, who largely bankrolled the medical-marijuana ballot initiative, had repeatedly threatened to launch a legal challenge over smoking, which he maintains was permitted in the amendment supported by more than 71 percent of Florida voters last fall.
Even so, lawmakers banned smoking of marijuana — but allowed patients to vaporize, or “vape,” pot products — in a bill approved during a special session last month. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill, which went into effect last week.
“The people of Florida knew exactly what they were voting on, when they voted. When they were voting on it, the vast majority, if not 100 percent, knew that smoke was included. The fact that we are here today is really unnecessary, but here we go,” Morgan told reporters Thursday morning outside the Leon County Courthouse.
In the lawsuit filed in Leon County circuit court, Morgan accused a number of state officials, including Department of Health Secretary Celeste Philip, of “deprivation of rights and privileges” by prohibiting patients eligible for the treatment from smoking marijuana products.
Morgan said he intends to add as plaintiffs to the lawsuit patients who smoke marijuana as a treatment for their illnesses. Some patients insist that smoking marijuana, rather than ingesting pot by other methods, alone provides relief for their conditions.
In defending the ban on smoking pot products, legislative leaders maintained that, as is the case of cigarettes, smoking marijuana is bad for patients’ health, and that medicinal dosages can’t be controlled when the product is smoked.
But Morgan, in the lawsuit, argued there is no research indicating that smoking marijuana contributes to lung illnesses.
“In fact, marijuana was shown to increase lung capacity,” Morgan argued.
By banning smoking, Florida lawmakers put themselves in the place of doctors, who, under the amendment, are responsible for deciding patients’ course of treatment, Morgan maintained in the lawsuit.
The constitutional amendment bans smoking of marijuana in public places — language Morgan insists permits smoking on private property.
The sharp-tongued Morgan, who regularly uses expletives when speaking with reporters, said the interpretation of the law “is as clear … as it would be to any first-grader.”
He compared the language in the amendment to rules regarding the use of hotel swimming pools, where signs that prohibit pool use at certain times mean that swimming is permitted during the hours in which the activity isn’t banned.
But House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican who sponsored the legislation and insisted on the smoking ban, defended lawmakers’ actions, saying he was certain courts would uphold the law.
Rodrigues said other states that permit smoking of medical marijuana made it clear in the proposals that went before voters.
“If you look at those other states, their constitutional amendments declared that it could be smoked and that it could be self-grown. If that’s what John Morgan wanted for Florida, he should have declared it in the amendment,” Rodrigues told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.
Florida law-enforcement officials, including sheriffs and police chiefs, encouraged the ban on smoking, saying an outright ban on “whole flower,” or what is more commonly known as “bud,” would make it easier to identify people who are breaking the law.
The issue is also rooted in a debate about whether smoking opens the door for recreational marijuana users, something Morgan rejected Thursday.
He accused Florida lawmakers of laying the groundwork for a recreational marijuana initiative in the near future. He said such an initiative would be pushed by advocates unhappy with the way the medical marijuana amendment was implemented, as has happened in some other states.
“They (the Legislature) have kicked the door wide open for recreational use of marijuana,” Morgan said. “They thought that this was their way of stopping people from backdooring the recreational use of marijuana. All they did, in the process, was to hurt the patients who need it the most.”
But Rodrigues said he “absolutely” disagreed with Morgan’s assessment.
States that have authorized recreational marijuana have three things in common, according to Rodrigues: smoking, self-growth and a large gray market for marijuana.
“We have implemented a system that does none of those things,” he said.
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
South Florida says
Its better than taking pills,
MORE GOVT INTERFERENCE WITH WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT ..FLORIDA IS WAY BEHIND AS ALWAYS..
Wishful Thinking says
God invented pot, along with many other herbs, vegetables, fruits, animals, fish, etc that sustain human life. . If you believe in God it’s time to believe in pot. It is not addictive, it is not deadly, you cannot OD on it… What more do our aw makers need to know?
Cigarettes, Booze and addictive deadly pills were not invented by God and unlike pot, they destroy untold thousands of lives every day. In high school we used to joke that that the only classes taught in Florida colleges and universities were ‘underwater basket weaving’…. Now it’s behind the doors fairy tale weaving….
alchohol is the number one killer for families car accidents and death by far and like ted turner said from the perspective of him being in the 1 percent of wealthy of wealthiest in the world we are all useless eaters and earth is only sustainable for 500,000 people green bud cures and heals so its outlawed wake up sheeple
Shoot, I’ve only lived in Florida for 13 years (this time), but it only took less than a year to recognize that the Florida Legislature is the ‘schoolyard bully’ in this state. Whenever the People (you know, their employers?) do something the legislature doesn’t like, they will spend inordinate amounts of time and (your) money fighting it in little, seemingly-insignificant ways, and finding implausible interpretations of the wordings of documents/amendments, etc. until they manage to corrupt their citizen-mandated response into something they (the Legislature) like a little better.
And, also, They (the Legislature) ALWAYS know better than the People what the people need ..
I love how cops are so fast to trample people’s rights in order to make there jobs easier No one with any bud is ever commiting a crime unless they are giving it to minors.
Ok then make smoking cigerettes illegal. Make them only vape. Yea…smh
Carol Ogden says
Corporate interests pretty much pay Florida legislators to ignore what people want in favor of corporate profits and executive bonuses. Remember the attempt to hijack the solar initiative too. My husband is a cancer patient who has purchased medical marijuana products that did not work as well (including adverse reaction side effect) as just smoking a bit. People and their medical advisors should be making these decisions. Not paid shills for the pharma industry.
I did some reading on the subject of marijuana affecting the lungs. People who have any kind of lung issue at all can be seriously affected by the smoke. I read this in many different sites just to make sure it was correct. A study had been done and there was some evidence that it could increase your lung capacity a tiny bit, provided you had never been a cigarette smoker.
Someone said that pot is not addictive. I know people who do smoke pot and they “need” it just the same as a cigarette smoker “needs” it. So I guess it is addictive in a way.
I am IN FAVOR of medical marijuana with the euphoric component removed, but the smoking of full blown weed bothers me because we all know that people will smoke it around others and wherever they can, if they are told they can’t. If a person is confined to their home because of painful illnesses, or other medical issues, then maybe smoking it vs eating it would be ok for them because they aren’t amongst other people who could be harmed.
People who have copd or any of its components can be very seriously compromised if around smoke of any kind. There are a lot of them around.
Tulip you nor any doctor have the right to tell anyone what they can and can not do in order to make themselves more comfortable with there illness. You seem very worried about what others might do, to the point you have become comfortable telling them what is best for them. Also smoking in public places is and will always be illegal ,just like open container.
I’d rather eat it anyway.
It should be in pill or capsule form and should only be sold at a pharmacy!
If people smoke their pot in their homes, I’m fine with it, but like all things smoking, do it in allowed smoking areas.
@ DAVE I do not go around telling people what is best for them. I only did that with my kids, for all the good it did me LOL.
. I was merely pointing out a pitfall and that people should look into things before making a decision. Like cigarette or cigar smoking, marijuana smoke could hurt certain ones that have lung issues. That’s all I wanted to point out. I firmly believe a person in a lot of chronic pain should have as much relief as possible so they don’t suffer. Whatever type of relief they choose is totally up to them, but should ask their doctor which form is best for their particular illness.
Chris Hoey says
Given the proclivity of many to abuse prescription drugs, it would be better if there were a reliable test for DUI for Marijuana, to avoid a plethora of stoned drivers. (I know there too many out there now, legalizing it under the guise of medical use will increase its use exponentially. Testing methods are needed.)
John Morgan for Governor!
a tiny manatee says
“we all know that people will smoke it around others and wherever they can”
Then pass legislation that they can only do it in designated areas.
Smoking cannabis allow it to act far more quickly and without ingestion. If you’re puking your guts up from chemo, you probably aren’t up for a) holding down anything and b) waiting 2 hours for relief. That’s orally ingested cannabis.
The no smoking ban is a middle finger by the Florida legislature at the people.
Constantly amazed says
There are so many questions that haven’t been asked or explained regarding medical marijuana.
For instance :
1. Will there be an age limit for use?
2. What medical condition would qualify for use?
3. Can any authorized “script” writter prescribe medical marijana?
4. Would you be allowed to operate a vehicle or othe machinery while taken medical marijuana?
5. Can one user give it to another?
6. Are insurance companies going to pay for it like other prescription drugs?
7. Can a user “stockpile” marijuana?
8. Can it be smoked in a public place?
9. Will the user have to carry a ” medical marijuana” ID card or medic alert braclets at all times?
A lot of questions that still are not answered.
Look at states where it is already 100% legal. Has total anarchy erupted there? Nope, states can actually make billions of dollars in tax revenue and people are very happy. Have significantly more people been arrested because of a supposed correlation between marijuana and crime? Nope, crime rates actually dropped. Has anyone died because of it? Nope, no one has ever died from marijuana in the history of mankind, it’s simply not toxic.
People love to hang onto “Reefer Madness.”
What is Morgan’s obsession with smoikable pot ? I could care less which way it go’s
There are folks in pain who respond quite well to MJ. All they want is some relief.
Imagine stopping the sale of Aleve, Tylenol, etc It’s cruel.
I guarantee you that the massively profitable pharmaceutical companies are “lobbying” (AKA bribing) legislators like crazy to stop the approval of “medical pot”! They don’t want anything eating into their “PROFITS”! Politicians are only interested in lining their own pockets, instead of helping ease the suffering of those who voted them into office.
Follow the Money! American Greed!!!
Imagine they made it illegal to swallow pills, instead all pills must be taken anally. , this stuff is becoming comedic. Everyone should be allowed to grow there own marijuana at home. I know lung cancer patients who still smoke ciggerettes so how is that better then them smoking marijuana? So is it illegal to sell ciggerettes to a person with lung cancer? I mean really what are we even talking about here?!
There are people moving away from states where marijuana has become legalized due to the fact they do not wish to smell pot every waking moment of the day. There are also concerns about rental properties now being used as grow houses, money that is supposedly going to school systems which see none of it, etc. I agree that it is necessary for medical purposes and have no problem with it in any form when used in a private home or on private property for medical purposes. I do not wish to feel run out of my state however if smoking becomes wide spread.
The FACTUAL numbers say that states who have legalized recreational pot actually have “open minded” people moving into them and they have experienced “increased” population. . . along with very low unemployment. . . read this article about Colorado:
Smoking pot outside your home is illegal in California, and I’ve been told you rarely come acrossed it as a nuisance and if you do, you have every right to call the police. Let’s not make problems where there aren’t any. Also for as long as time, people have either moved towards or away from areas they like and dislike do to whatever reasons may occur.
Do you want to fly in a plane when the pilot is on Marijauna?
Do you want surgery by a doctor who is on it
Do you want your son or daughter in a car driven by someone on pot
Do you want a lawyer on pot when trying your case
Do you want a school bus driver your child to school on the stuff
How about a dentist drilling your cavity or doing a root canal while on pot?
That’s what all these “open minded’ people are willing to put up with that believe in recreational weed. Medical is a whole different story though.
Does your dentist drill your teeth while he is drunk?
Does your Airline allow pilots to fly planes drunk?
Do children often show up to school drunk?
Does your lawyer show up to court drunk?
Do you allow your children to drive with drunk drivers?
I’m sure the answer is no, so what is your point exactly? Again people creating problems where there are none.
Just legalize it entirely and put an end to all this ridiculous hysterical hand wringing. Marijuana is a plant. People should be able to grow it, smoke it or eat it without being arrested. Maybe some day Florida will catch up with the 21st century, but probably not until 2100.