One of the central figures in the medical marijuana fight has been Orlando attorney, John Morgan, who has bolstered his already large visibility in the state. Since the passage of regulations surrounding medical marijuana during a special session of the FL legislature, Morgan has been in a continued battle to allow patients to use cannabis in the most effective way for them.
The bill that passed restricts smokable cannabis outright and limits the availability of anything but certain types of cannabis products. Immediately upon passage, Morgan vowed to file a lawsuit against the state. What is allowed is to use edibles or vaporizers that utilize cannabis concentrates.
The lawsuit has begun to expand in scope, as Morgan began adding plaintiffs, according to court filings accessed on Wednesday, August 23rd. Morgan has added three plaintiffs to be exact, these are patients who suffer from chronic illnesses and require the use of medical cannabis.
These plaintiffs in question are Diana Dodson of Levy County, a cancer patient; Catherine Jordan of Manatee County, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease; and Roberto Pickering of Leon County, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder; all qualify to use medicinal cannabis under a constitutional amendment passed last year.
Morgan’s lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the smoking ban runs counter to the amendment’s language and is not what voters overwhelmingly came out to the polls to support. Morgan and many voters believe the spirit of the law was to allow doctors to decide what form of cannabis would be appropriate for their patients, not lawmakers.
House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the implementing bill during both the Regular Session and Special Session, has said: “we don’t believe you smoke medicine.” Edibles and “vaping” are permitted, however.
“We believe that smoking causes as much harm as the benefits, particularly when we’re offering vaping, which provides all of the benefits and none of the harm,” Rodrigues has said.
“The people of Florida knew exactly what they were voting on,” Morgan told reporters after he filed the suit in Tallahassee. “The vast majority, if not 100 percent, knew that smoke was included … I’m right, and 71 percent of the people of Florida know I’m right.”
The lawsuit says the legislative intent of the bill clashes with voter intent expressed in the amendment. For example, a doctor may determine that smoking marijuana gives a particular patient the best benefit of the drug, Morgan said.
By “redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of a licensed Florida physician and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process,” the suit says.
Morgan also has cited a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 that “despite decades of marijuana being … smok(ed) in the United States, there have been no reported medical cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana.”
The suit names as defendants the state, the Department of Health, state Health Secretary and Surgeon General Celeste Philip, Office of Medical Marijuana Use Director Christian Bax, the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, and their respective chairs, James Orr and Anna Hayden.