John Morgan: smokable medical marijuana appeal is Rick Scott putting politics over people

Photo of John Morgan at Tiger Bay Club
John Morgan. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (21 Apr. 2017).

On Friday a judge ruled that Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana is unconstitutional; but the state is appealing the ruling. During a conference with reporters Tuesday, attorney John Morgan said he hopes Governor Rick Scott will stop putting politics over people and end the appeal. Morgan says the constitutional amendment he spearheaded included a statement of intent that it would legalize smoking medical cannabis.

medical pot marijuana
“Hockey Moms for Medical Marijuana” sign. By WMNF News Jan. 2015.

“In that statement of intent we clearly lay out that smokable marijuana will be used as part of medical marijuana. Very clear. The State has argued – if you can believe it or not – that the statement of intent really doesn’t matter because the voters don’t read it. That’s like saying, ‘Well, I guess people who don’t read the paper can’t vote.’ The statement of intent was also used by the State in their case against Joe Redner. When they needed the statement of intent, they said, ‘Look at the statement of intent.’ When they don’t want the statement of intent, they say, ‘The voters don’t read it so it doesn’t matter.’ But we clearly laid out that smokable marijuana was anticipated. We then went further in the ballot – you can only have so many words in the actual ballot wording – and we said very clearly there that smokable marijuana would not be allowed in public. Now look, 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.”



Rick Scott
Florida Governor Rick Scott introduces Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Tampa on 11 June 2015. By Samuel Johnson / WMNF News.

“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 use smokable marijuana. It is for many people the most direct and effective mechanism for immediate relief. Primarily my client Cathy Jordan, who is dying of ALS. The State would really like for her to die. For her just to go away. It’s almost been a waiting game. So here’s were we are today. Karen Gievers, the judge in Tallahassee, put together a very detailed, reasoned ruling that says smokable marijuana is allowed. And lays out the reasons in a 22-page document. Within one hour of that ruling the State of Florida appealed it. I do not know if Cathy Jordan will live long enough to see this through. But I will tell you what, I’ve never met anyone more heroic in my life. So now, where do we go from here? The first thing I want everyone to understand – and I don’t think people do understand this – the person who has the power with this appeal is Governor Rick Scott. It’s not Pam Bondi – she’s the lawyer for the State. The defendant is the [Florida] Department of Health. What everyone needs to understand is that Governor Rick Scott could remove that appeal today if he wants. Not Pam Bondi’s decision, it’s his decision. He runs the Department of Health. The Department of Health has been an absolute disaster in [medical marijuana] implementation. I don’t need to tell you about how bad that has all been.”



“This is a message today for Governor Scott. I believe that your decision to allow this to go on could have serious, serious ramifications in your election against Bill Nelson [for U.S. Senate]. This as clear a day a situation as ever we’ve seen. The people of Florida overwhelmingly – it wasn’t 50%, it wasn’t 60%, it wasn’t even 70% — 72% want this. And so what we’re going to do first of all is I’m going to wait and see what Rick Scott does. The ball is in his court. The decision is his. Do you know who wants this to go on as long as possible? The makers of opioids. Because marijuana, in all of its forms, is the best fight against opioids, that kills more people under 50 than anything else in America. And the most direct method to get relief is smokable marijuana. This is an issue of compassion. This evidently has become a political issue. And Governor Scott is going to have to make a decision whether he is going to put politics over people. Whether he’s going to put campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry over compassion. And really, when you get right down to it – and I’ve thought about this long and hard – what is this? This is plain old meanness.”



“I can have a bag of marijuana in five minutes. And if you want any, just go to any high school campus in the state of Florida. You can get it in three minutes. This is not stopping people from getting smokable marijuana. This is stopping sick people, older people, veterans who don’t want to go to jail. Who don’t want to take that risk like Cathy Jordan is willing to do. That’s all it is.”



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