ORLANDO, Fla. -- Attorney John Morgan is calling on Floridians to push Gov. Scott to stop the state's appeal over whether medical marijuana can be smoked.
- John Morgan: Intent of amendment to allow smoking medical marijuana in private
- Morgan wants people to tell Gov. Scott to stop the state's appeal
Last week a judge ruled the state's ban on smokeable medical marijuana was unconstitutional.
Ina 22-page ruling, Judge Karen Gievers said Floridians had a right to use the medical marijuana treatment recommended by their physicians, including smokable marijuana in private places.
The Florida Dept. of Health is appealing to federal court in Tallahassee, saying the ruling goes against the intent of the Florida legislature, which called it a health risk.
Morgan, who helped spearhead the constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana in Florida, which passed overwhelmingly in 2016, says the amendment's original statement of intent and the ballot language banned smoking marijuana in public, not in private.
"I don't think you have to be too much of a scholar to understand that if it's not allowed in public, it's allowed in private," Morgan said. "So clearly from the statement of intent and the ballot language, we always believed and knew that that was what was anticipated."
"The state has argued, if you can believe it or not, the Statement of Intent doesn't really matter because voters don't read it. That's like saying people who don't read the paper can't vote," Morgan said. "I knew what I was saying, the voters knew what I was saying and that's why I had to sue the state of Florida to allow really sick people to smoke medical marijuana."
Morgan's client is Cathy Jordan, a long-time sufferer of ALS, who says smoking medical marijuana is the only method of taking the drug that gives her any relief. She has said smoking it dries excess salvia, increases appetite and acts as a muscle relaxer.
Morgan says he is not sure if Jordan will live to see the end of litigation.
In a statement to Spectrum News, Florida Dept. of Health said:
"This ruling goes against what the legislature outlined when they wrote and approved Florida's law to implement the constitutional amendment that was approved by an overwhelmingly partisan majority. The department has appealed the ruling and the appeal imposes an automatic stay."
CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE GOVERNOR
As Morgan fights the issue in a court of law, he's also taking it up with the court of public opinion, encouraging people to call and write Governor Rick Scott.
"What everyone needs to understand is that Governor Scott could remove that appeal today if he wants," Morgan said. "We'll fight this appeal if we have to, but we really shouldn't have to. Really, what should happen is that Governor Scott should say 'you know what, enough is enough, and I'm going to allow the people's will to be done.'"
MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE IN FLORIDA
There are currently 111,970 Floridians with a license to consume medical marijuana, according to Florida Department of Health.
More than 50 pounds of medical marijuana are dispensed to those individuals during an average week.
Those patients include Jeff Boyette of Orlando. He was critically injured four years ago when he was hit by a car.
His injuries leave him in near daily pain without the use of his prescribed medical marijuana.
"It knocks my pain out," Boyette said.
Florida law allows patients to use medical marijuana in products like edibles, oils, tinctures and ointments.
Boyette says the edible and oil marijuana has helped ease his pain tremendously, but says smokable marijuana would provide greater comfort.
"The bud for some reason, something about the bud helps settle my stomach if I have a stomach or headache," Boyette said.
COMFORT V. CURE
The Centers for Disease Control says research is finding medical marijuana can easy nausea and vomiting in ill patients, including those in treatment for cancer.
The CDC says more than 37 million people in the U.S. use marijuana, recreationally and for medicinal purposes. More research is needed to better understand how marijuana may help or hinder treatment for illness and disease.
Morgan says medical marijuana is about comfort, not cures.
"This is an issue of compassion," Morgan said.
Florida Supreme Court said Friday it would not take up the state's request for an appeal hearing, leaving the case now in the hands of a federal appeals bench in Tallahassee.