TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The trial lawyer who led the effort to allow marijuana for medical uses in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s decision to ban smokable forms of the plant.
Smoking marijuana is the best way to administer it to some patients with debilitating conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, lawyer John Morgan said at a news conference outside the Leon County courthouse where he filed the suit.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law last month implementing the constitutional amendment, but lawmakers banned smoking marijuana, saying that smoking isn’t healthy.
Republican State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, of Estero, who sponsored the bill, said he is confident the law will stand as is. He said lawmakers studied the science of medical marijuana and crafted a law that provides all the benefits without the health risks.
“If smoking was their intent, they should have declared it,” Rodrigues said.
The law does allow vaping and marijuana products sold as edibles, oils, sprays or tinctures.
Morgan, who is considering a run for governor as a Democrat next year, scoffed at the idea that the state should be concerned about the health effects of marijuana smoke for someone who is on their deathbed.
“For Ray Rodrigues to say he’s concerned about a cancer patient smoking a few hits of marijuana so that they can kill the nausea is ridiculous,” Morgan said. “Do we give a rat’s ass if a person dying from ALS smokes instead of vapes? I don’t, and I trust the doctors to figure out what’s best for that patient, not Ray Rodrigues.”
Morgan spent millions of dollars to get the medical marijuana amendment passed. A 2014 effort fell just short of the 60 percent voter support it needed to pass. A second effort in 2016 was easily approved with 71 percent support.
Morgan has taken his fight against the smoking ban to social media, where he is using the hashtag #NoSmokeIsAJoke.
Scott’s office referred a request for comment to the state Department of Health, which wouldn’t comment other than to say the suit is being reviewed.
Two weeks ago, the Bonita Springs City Council unanimously approved a six-month extension to a ban that was already in place through Aug. 3 due to a lack of information regarding specific regulations.
“I know this council had previously expressed interest in permitting dispensaries here as long as they were appropriately located and we had hoped the legislature allowed us to work toward that,” Bonita Springs community development director John Dulmer said. “However, based on what I’ve seen, I have a problem saying yes because you really wind up saying yes to more than you want to.”
Medical marijuana supporters will have to wait until December to open dispensaries in the city.
Morgan went live on Facebook in Tallahassee: