Orlando attorney and medical marijuana amendment backer John Morgan has sued the state of Florida to allow suffering patients to smoke medical marijuana.
Morgan filed the suit in Leon County Circuit Court Thursday morning.
In the lawsuit, Morgan asks Florida to declare the new medical marijuana law unenforceable because it lacks one key way for patients to ingest the drug: by smoking it.
“Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream,” wrote Morgan.
Former Democratic House Speaker and attorney Jon Mills joined in the suit as well, which Morgan had been talking about filing for months should the state legislature not allow medical marijuana in its latest proposal to regulate the state’s new, booming industry.
The current proposal to regulate medical marijuana allows patients to ingest the drug via edibles, oils or vaping, but prohibits smoking the drug -- an issue that has pro-medical marijuana supporters up in arms.
Morgan says state lawmakers didn’t quite understand the intent of Amendment 2, which he largely crafted with other pro-medical marijuana advocates.
State lawmakers, the suit alleges, have crafted their own definition of the constitutionally defined term “medical use” to exclude smoking -- and that’s a big problem.
“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,” Morgan wrote.
Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of the vote last November, prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana in public places.
Morgan says the underlying implication is that medical cannabis can be smoked in private.
“In the amendment, it is very, very clear that it says smoking is not allowed in public and that’s the only place smoking can be addressed by the Legislature,” Morgan said in a press conference Thursday morning. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if smoking isn’t allowed in public, it must be allowed in private.”
Critics have slammed the idea of smokeable medical marijuana as just another way to legalize recreational marijuana and questioned whether it was a medically viable way to ingest the drug.
"There's a reason why every single major medical association opposes the use of the raw, smoked form of marijuana as medicine: smoke is not a reliable delivery system, it's impossible to measure dosage, and it contains hundreds of other chemical compounds that may do more harm than good," said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of nonprofit medical marijuana organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
New medical marijuana regulations are still fresh on the books in Florida. Just two weeks ago, Gov. Rick Scott tacked his signature onto a bill regulating Florida’s medical marijuana industry into law.
If the Leon County court agrees with Morgan, though, it will be up to the Florida Department of Health to regulate the drug.
“They’re making it a health issue like someone in chemotherapy is taking a few tokes,” Morgan told Sunshine State News. “It’s a bunch of people who don't understand what they don't understand. When you're dying the last thing you care about is the smoke from marijuana."
Morgan said the real threat of medical marijuana came to the opioid industry, which has boomed in recent years as the nation has fallen into an addiction crisis with high instances of opioid abuse.
"Every person using medical marijuana is a person who will not go to CVS...and buy their opioids which hook us, kill us and destroy our families,” he said.
The firebrand attorney wasted no time laying into House Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who sponsored the latest bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry in Florida -- but banned smoking in the bill.
"If Ray Rodrigues is so concerned about smoking, why doesn't he tax cigarettes $5 a pack?" Morgan asked. All of a sudden Ray Rodrigues is a doctor in the state of Florida? No!”
To Morgan, Thursday was just another step on the already long and winding road to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
“I started this thing in 2014 and this is the last promise I made to the people of Florida,” he said. “Promises made are promises kept.”