A Tallahassee judge heard arguments over whether or not Floridians should be allowed to smoke medical marijuana on Thursday, kicking off a controversial case between pro-medical pot advocates and state attorneys who say smoking shouldn’t be allowed.
State attorneys told Circuit Judge Karen Gievers the plaintiffs in the suit have no standing to sue since they are not “qualified patients” who have undergone the process to receive medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
The plaintiffs say they need smokable marijuana but can’t legally obtain it, hence why they filed the suit.
Florida voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to expand the use of medical marijuana in 2016, but while the amendment provided for wider use of medical pot, it did not allow for the smoking of the drug.
Under current law, Floridians can use edibles, vaping, oils and pill forms of medical cannabis. Prohibiting smoking the drug quickly became a hot button issue for some medical marijuana advocates throughout the state.
Orlando attorney John Morgan, who was largely responsible for crafting the amendment, said he planned to sue the state to allow suffering patients to smoke the drug.
“Great Scott!! I'll be filing my lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law,” he wrote on Twitter last summer.
Morgan says state lawmakers didn’t quite understand the intent of Amendment 2, which he largely crafted with other pro-medical marijuana advocates.
“I don’t know what their problem is with smoke but that’s clearly the intent of the amendment,” Morgan said. “I will get to sue them to allow medical marijuana to be smoked.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs agreed, saying although the amendment’s definition allows for smokable marijuana, the provision is not explicitly stated in the amendment language.
“If you’re the Legislature, why would you pick out smoking and say no? Because [this amendment] allows it,” attorney Jon Mills said.
Plaintiffs said they believed the Florida Legislature was acting erroneously and placing limitations on suffering Floridians looking for relief.
“The Legislature’s taking the place of the doctors, telling us what we can and cannot do,” said Bob Jordan, whose wife Cathy, a plaintiff, suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. “We voted for the constitutional amendment so we wouldn’t be prosecuted for smoking cannabis.”
Morgan told Sunshine State News Amendment 2 restricts patients from smoking the drug in public, but said the underlying implication is that medical marijuana can be smoked in the privacy of patients’ homes.
“They’re making it a health issue like someone in chemotherapy is taking a few tokes,” Morgan said. “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."