John Morgan sues Florida over medical marijuana smoking ban

By: Jason Kelly , Michael Lopardi

Updated:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Attorney John Morgan traveled to Tallahassee Thursday to file a lawsuit against the state of Florida over its recently enacted medical marijuana law.

Morgan said he's suing the state because the law prohibits the smoking of medical marijuana. Patients may currently vape, or use oils, pills or edibles.

The Orlando-based attorney said the stipulation on smoking contradicts the Florida Constitution and the intent of voters who approved the amendment.

Read: Rules for medical marijuana use among city, county employees unclear

Morgan, who is chairman of People United for Medical Marijuana, was a major proponent of the amendment, which passed in November with 71 percent voter approval.

He took direct aim at Florida lawmakers.

“They thought this was their way of stopping people from back-dooring the recreational use of marijuana,” he said. “But all they did in the process was hurt the patients who need it the most.”

Read: Orlando International Airport bans medical marijuana

Dr. Kevin Sabet, who serves as president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group opposed to the smoking of medical marijuana, said patients "deserve access to the very best modern medicine has to offer, not spurious solutions offered by modern-day snake oil salesmen."

Read: Medical marijuana dispensary to open in The Villages


Watch Morgan's press conference below:


Read: Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Orlando

"This lawsuit is nothing more than a smokescreen designed to bypass the FDA and open the doors to a new for-profit, retail commercial marijuana industry in Florida," Sabet said in a statement.

The group argues smoking is not a reliable way to deliver the drug and it’s impossible to measure the dosage.

© 2017 Cox Media Group.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Language in the constitutional amendment prohibited smoking in public places, but Morgan said lawmakers went too far by outlawing it altogether. He said some medical conditions require patients to smoke marijuana as part of their treatment.

"This is not about a healthy person buying marijuana and smoking it," he said. "The people (who) we lay out very specifically in the bill are people who have things like ALS, AIDS, cancer, MS."

Read: Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Edgewater

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Bruce Grossman of Maitland said he’s a cancer survivor who relied on medical marijuana.

He believes most people who approved the constitutional amendment last fall thought smoking would be allowed.

“I don’t think that the voters or anybody else ever for the most part knew of any other way to ingest marijuana other than smoking it,” Grossman said.

Morgan's name has been floated as a possible contender for next year's Florida gubernatorial race. He said he hasn't decided yet if he'll run.

As his lawsuit goes forward in the courts, some Central Florida cities, like Winter Garden, are considering banning medical marijuana dispensaries outright.

Because the state law doesn't allow cities to choose zones where dispensaries can operate, the Winter Garden is looking at the ban, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. 

"The legislature kind of tied our hands," he said. "We're not allowed to create our own zoning laws for these dispensaries, so we chose the other option, which they did give us, which was an outright ban."

While dispensaries would not be allowed in the city if a ban is passed, nurseries growing medical marijuana, like Knox, which operates a large facility in Winter Garden, will be able to continue.

That is a separate issue because it is being done on land that is zoned for agriculture, city officials said.

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