The ban on marijuana smoking in the new medical cannabis regulations recently signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott has kicked off a battle that may have far-reaching repercussions for all cannabis users in the state.
Orlando attorney John Morgan – the major financial force behind the passage of Amendment 2 last November, the measure that legalized a broader medical marijuana program in FL – has filed suit to get smoking allowed under the new rules. He contends that the intent of Amendment 2 was to allow smoking in private since the language specifically banned public smoking.
“For [GOP State Rep.] Ray Rodrigues to say he’s concerned about a cancer patient smoking a few hits of marijuana so that they can kill the nausea is ridiculous,” Morgan said. “Do we give a rat’s ass if a person dying from ALS smokes instead of vapes? I don’t, and I trust the doctors to figure out what’s best for that patient, not Ray Rodrigues.”
The battle already has some activists eyeing the future, a future when cannabis consumers in Florida won’t need special permission from the state to smoke marijuana, a future when they won’t even need a medical reason to legally purchase marijuana.
The good news is, there are two groups in Florida right now gathering signatures for adult use legalization measures for the 2018 ballot. The bad news is that neither one has made a dent in the number of signatures that need to be gathered, both having less than 15,000 of the 766,200 valid signatures that will be necessary.
So all who smoke marijuana in Florida may be looking at a few more years of criminality, even if they are terminally ill. John Morgan’s lawsuit could restore smoking for qualified patients but that may still leave millions of people in Florida buying on the black market. Recreational legalization will be needed at some point if anything approaching true freedom for cannabis users is to be achieved.
Until then, a battle many thought was already won will instead continue to be waged. Many patients in Florida will continue to have their legal access to their medicine of choice restricted. And many will continue to risk a criminal record – or worse, to buy what they need on the black market.
The lessons of the failure and destructive nature of prohibition are hard ones for a lot of people to absorb.