After heart-wrenching testimony from patients suffering from terminal illnesses whose only relief is found through smoking medical marijuana, it was up to a judge to determine whether the ban on smoking was unconstitutional. It was expected that the case would get sent to a higher court for a decision that would go against legislature. However, last Friday Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban absolutely went against the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016.
To no one’s surprise, it was less than a full hour before the Department of Health had filed an appeal to the judge’s ruling, now waiting in the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal. On Tuesday, John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who started People United for Medical Marijuana – and who happens to be the attorney representing the two women whose quality of life depends on their ability to smoke medical marijuana – called on Florida Governor Rick Scott to just quit now.
“I’ve got clients who can tell me at any time to settle or stop their case,” Morgan said. “Rick Scott is the boss and the buck stops there. We will fight this if we have to, but we really shouldn’t have to. Gov. Scott should say, ‘Enough is enough.'”
The state should let the judge’s ruling stand without further appeal – regardless of the legislature’s own opinions on how marijuana can be used as medicine, it does not change the fact that Amendment 2 absolutely was intended to include all forms of marijuana, including flower. Even the statement of intent that was on the petition signed by voters and reviewed prior to voting stated that smoking would be prohibited in public places, suggesting it was legal in private ones – the state tried to argue that voters don’t often read statements of intent, but Morgan dismissed this as well.
“I don’t care what Gov. Scott thinks. This is legitimate medicine,” Cathy Jordan, the ALS patient from Manatee County, said Friday after the state filed its appeal. “The state can continue to waste money appealing or it can accept the will of the people.”
Morgan is going as far as to suggest – or in a way, remind – Governor Scott that going against the will of the voters could have negative political repercussions as he goes up against Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson when the governor’s position is up for re-election in November. In the meantime, the appeal is already filed and is likely to be expedited to be heard as soon as a few weeks from now due to to the fact that Cathy Jordan, who is one of the plaintiffs, is terminally ill.
“The ball is in his court, the decision is his. Will meanness and politics trump people, compassion and kindness?” Morgan said.