Smoke this: John Morgan adds plaintiffs to marijuana lawsuit

John Morgan inset

Medical marijuana advocate John Morgan has added three more plaintiffs to his lawsuit against the state, filed after lawmakers refused to allow marijuana to be smoked, according to court filings accessed Wednesday.

Diana Dodson of Levy County, a cancer patient; Catherine Jordan of Manatee County, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease; and Roberto Pickering of Leon County, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder; all qualify to use medicinal cannabis under a constitutional amendment passed last year.

Their names were added to the action this week. Also, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers allowed Morgan an extra 30 days to file an amended complaint in the case, first lodged in July by People United for Medical Marijuana, the political committee behind the amendment.

The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the smoking ban runs counter to the amendment’s language.

Lawmakers recently approved and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law an implementing bill (SB 8-A) for the amendment that does not allow medicinal marijuana to be smoked.

House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the implementing bill during both the Regular Session and Special Session, has said “we don’t believe you smoke medicine.” Edibles and “vaping” are permitted, however.

“We believe that smoking causes as much harm as the benefits, particularly when we’re offering vaping, which provides all of the benefits and none of the harm,” Rodrigues has said.

“The people of Florida knew exactly what they were voting on,” Morgan told reporters after he filed the suit in Tallahassee. “(T)he vast majority, if not 100 percent, knew that smoke was included … I’m right, and 71 percent of the people of Florida know I’m right.”

Morgan, the Orlando-based attorney and entrepreneur, backed the amendment that was OK’d by 71 percent of voters last year on the statewide ballot.

The lawsuit says the legislative intent of the bill clashes with voter intent expressed in the amendment. For example, a doctor may determine that smoking marijuana gives a particular patient the best benefit of the drug, Morgan said.

By “redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of a licensed Florida physician and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process,” the suit says.

Moreover, since the amendment “does not require that the smoking of medical marijuana be allowed in public,” that means “that smoking medical marijuana in a private place in compliance with the provisions of the amendment is legal.”

Morgan also has cited a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 that “despite decades of marijuana being … smok(ed) in the United States, there have been no reported medical cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana.”

The suit names as defendants the state, the Department of Health, state Health Secretary and Surgeon General Celeste Philip, Office of Medical Marijuana Use Director Christian Bax, the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, and their respective chairs, James Orr and Anna Hayden.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Christopher M. Kennard

    August 23, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    John Morgan just filed a lawsuit against the Florida Legislature for not following the wishes of 71.3% of Florida’s voters. The politicians decided to deny patients their right to therapeutically use cannabis by inhaling the smoke of the medicinal herb, even when prescribed by a patient’s physician.
    My name is Chris Kennard, and I am a volunteer coordinator and petition drive organizer for the FLORIDIANS FOR FREEDOM (FFF). This is a group of everyday, ordinary Floridian citizens who formed a non-partisan volunteer citizen’s movement to legalize cannabis through the state constitutional ballot initiative next year in our statewide Florida election of 2018.
    We say it is time to conduct a peaceful people’s campaign to restore our Civil Rights, and we intend to do so by mounting a successful wave of volunteers to collect signed RIGHT OF ADULTS TO CANNABIS ballot initiative petitions from registered Florida voters. We expect to collect 78, 000 by December, 2017.
    It is how we can conduct a people’s peaceful “political revolution” where we both change our state of Florida and influence our country by voting for good, sound, workable policies and laws under which we shall live and of which we approve.
    On August 26, 2015, two years ago, the Floridians For Freedom filed this petition, called RIGHT OF ADULTS TO CANNABIS (RAC) [Ballot Initiative # 15-20] with the State of Florida. Go to to print out a copy to read, and if you agree, to date, sign and send it by mail to us.
    Our proposed state constitutional law provides adults in Florida over the age of twenty-one the right to possess, use and grow their cannabis for personal use on private property and within your own home.

    It stops the arrest of people before they can be convicted for cannabis related violations. Cannabis will be legal. No one can be arrested for private adult cannabis use on private property. Medicinal users can smoke at home.

    Our former President of the FLORIDIANS FOR FREEDOM, Cathy Jordan, an ALS patient who is one of the longest living patients using cannabis, will testify on the validity and appropriateness of the use of smoking cannabis to stay alive.
    The right of a patient in Florida to use the medicine of their choice, with the advice and medical approval the patient’s physician, has once again been trampled by the State of Florida, who believes it can dictate to all patients in our state as to what medicine they are “allowed” to use and which medicine they are not.
    Some of our FFF members are also Florida Cannabis Action Network (FL CAN) members, like Bob and Cathy Jordan, our former President of the Floridians For Freedom. Bob and Cathy Jordan provided information regarding the Medicinal uses of cannabis to John Morgan’s group several years ago when he first funded the drive to pass the MEDICAL MARIJUANA AMENDMENT, approved last year, in 2016, by 71.3% of the voters.
    While the politicians will likely lose this court case, just like the Fair Districts Acts and other lawsuits Florida citizens have had to file against the corrupt politicians we have in public office, it is the time and cost involved that is vexing.
    That time and cost will involve more than wasted time and money — it is the amount of time suffering patients continue to be denied medicinal cannabis to replace the dangerous, addictive and toxic drugs the pharmaceutical industry pushes on patients for quick profits — the cost to our families and to the country is the number of people who will die before cannabis is readily available to them.
    We are citizens like many of you who no longer trust our state’s politicians to legalize cannabis, so we joined together in 2014 when the first Medical Marijuana Amendment failed and wrote our own law with the assistance of an attorney.
    We vote on these new laws in November of 2018 and two months later, our new RIGHT OF ADULTS TO CANNABIS law “self-actuates” to be effective on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 regarding personal use by adults in Florida to possess use and grow their own. Neither law will be delayed, derailed or denied, once Florida voters approve this new constitutional amendment law.

    Print a copy from You might like it! Even if you signed one, please consider helping just a little more, and collect two more signed petitions to send in.! Now do the same with the Voting Restoration Amendment.

    If you really like them, please make three copies; sign one, and pass two on to two other registered Florida voters to copy. Ask voters to sign one and pass two along to create a continuous cannabis and right to vote “daisy chain-reaction” of petitions being signed . . . a people’s peaceful path of three steps leading to a collection of a million signed petitions, drawn from every one of our 67 counties within Florida.

    This would work! It is more proof that voters, themselves, can elect their own representatives on the local, state and national levels of government, and create our own laws under which we live, those laws which voters in Florida approved, without resorting to international corporate secret slush funds or mega wealthy donor’s election campaign cash . We are a free nation. Let’s free our elections!

    Some folks are even making 10 copies or more to give to voters to sign. We can use all the volunteer assistance we can obtain. This is a low cost, low budget citizen’s volunteer campaign, conducted county by county, city by city, one voter asking two other voters to sign a petition.

    FLORIDIANS FOR FREEDOM (FFF) realized that legalizing cannabis would have to be done by the people of Florida, because the politicians would not properly or fully do so. Nor would politicians restore felons right to vote again.

    They go hand in hand together for our election of 2018, to promote our rights and our freedom from improper intrusive governmental interference by restoring rights guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Approving both proposed laws will initiate a number of very positive changes in our state and national laws.

  • Drift Smith

    August 24, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Mr. Kennard I want to thank you for all your hard work in the name of freedom. You would think that that the folks in Tallahassee would understand simple English. But it is obvious that they can not even see the nose on their faces. I think it’s time for a change in leadership in this state. I hope Mr. Morgan decides to run for Governor of this great state. I feel that would be a very good start.

  • Doc Williams

    August 24, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I sent this to the Health Debt Monday

    To Whom it concerns: Aug 20 2017
    I am so compelled to bring this forward because of the way that it is being mishandled.

    I have esophageal cancer and am currently a Cancer patient at Florida Cancer and Research in Clermont Fl. and have been since May 2016. I have monthly treatments there that began in June 2016. I was also a patient of Dr Saunders for 28 daily radiation treatments that also began in June 2016 and ended in July 2016. My prognosis is, for the time being, I can live with this cancer for awhile longer but it is non-curable and I will have to have chemo maintenance treatments for the rest of my life.

    In an attempt to legitimize myself and not become part of the opiod epidemic, I felt that cannabis was the ultimate drug for some daily relief and benefit quality of my life. I originally went to the Cannabis Doctor in St Petersburg Fl, Dr. Lora Brown on Feb22nd 2017. She’s listed in the registry. 250.dollars. I then waited the required 90 days, this has been modified since for the compassion of the patients, now there is no longer a waiting period.

    On May 22nd I returned to the Doctor, as required at the time, and received the registration/application form. At that time a prescription for medical cannabis was written for me and entered into the system computers. 150 dollars. I immediately, after leaving the doctor’s office, visited a local dispensary with a blank copy of the registration form for their assistance in making sure I did it properly, they helped me thru the complete form including taking my (original ) picture which was initially attached to the form upon submission to you. I then went to the post office and mailed the completed form to you on May 23rd 2017. Along with 75 dollars.

    On June 28th, I received the form back, rejected, because of the address on the form that I had submitted. It clearly states on the registration form in the address section, ‘mailing address,’ and because I have a po box for mail purposes, that is why I put it on there. I then called your dept and spoke to someone, who clearly was having a bad day, and rudely told me I should put my physical address on there regardless what the form says. I went back to the dispensary for another form and did as told and resubmitted back to you with the original picture still attached to the old form and resubmitted as well. No mention on rejection due to the picture. Mailed back to you on June 29th.

    July 25th I received the form rejected again because I had forgotten to sign the resubmitted form. The signature portion is right below the guardianship portion of the form on the backside of 1st page and a little confusing as to, am I signing a guardianship of some sort, which is not my case and also the resubmitted original registration form was remailed also that clearly has my signature on it. Mailed back to you on July 26th.

    Today, Aug 19th 2017, I received the form back again, rejected because the picture does not qualify. Please find enclosed a passport photo that was taken a few minutes ago at the local Walgreens and as stated on the registration form, will qualify as it is a legal passport photo. 14.97 dollars. It appears to be identical to the original photo, from the dispensary, submitted and now rejected, but certainly the same size and meets the requirement. This was mailed to you on Aug 21st 2017. The original picture has been in your office 3 times with no mention from you about any disqualifications of it until now.

    I simply ask that you remove any more scrutiny you may have of me and issue my card. Please feel free to contact my Oncology Doctor for any verifications, contact numbers enclosed or my place of residence as well, info attached. I have a great group of Doctors that I will be treated by until I die and I also have a great place to live in Clermont FL that is close to them and the treatment center, I’m trying my best and now desperately, to receive some relief with my prescription medication. It has been 6 months and I’m still waiting from the start of this issue and I really question, where is your ‘Compassion’, as your name implies, for the patients when this is going on with me. Opiods are not the answer because of the negative effects they produce and that is why there is Medical Cannabis available now to help the patients. It does help and works well to improve quality of life for me.

    Thank You for your consideration and resolution of this dilemma of an issue I’ve been put in.

    Doc Williams

    • Kballetpink

      August 25, 2017 at 7:08 am

      Omg! Bless you. That sounds criminal on their part

      • doc williams

        August 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

        This whole process has been a nightmare for me and confirms the incompetence of the Dept. I read a little more yesterday because I felt I was picked out and the only one having a problem but apparently there’re are over a 1000+ rejections going on at any one time. The head of the outfit has no previous experience in what he’s doing. An experienced private group wanted the job and had applied for it but never even considered as the person doing it now was assigned by an inside political group. There’re only 2 full time people and 9 part timers in employment in this office and over 3000+ applications waiting to be processed everyday. I am totally convinced because of the leadership that this is all about the money and control by a few people and not at all for the compassion of the patients. The black market is flourishing and the opioid crisis is growing everyday as well. I blame it on the Governor and the Law makers in Tallahassee. Past time for some changes there. It is criminal. Doc Williams

  • Barney Kraus

    August 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I want to be heard! Florida has done so much to bull**** their way out of this amendment! I have MS and deal with a great amount of pain 24/7. I do not have quality of life because I cannot enjoy the company of my wife or do normal things around our house. W cannot even get out of this house it is falling down around us. I cannot afford or work on it myself. The landlord and property management has dumped off on us. People have brought me certain strains from Colorado that are for MS. They worked great. I was able to do housework! Gov. Scott and his Big Pharma cronies need impeachment and charged for the opioids crisis. If Marijuana was legalized there would’nt be a opioids crisis!

  • Linda

    August 25, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Tallahassee is so pissed that it passed. They are just making it really hard to get it legally out of spite. They want people to just give up. 6 weeks since I applied for my card. I qualify under 2 of the health conditions. And here I am still waiting. At this point I would be happy if the D.O.H. would do their job. Meanwhile lots more people waiting too long. Some will be dead by the time they get their card. I won’t give up!

  • Kent norton phd

    August 28, 2017 at 6:46 am

    The fact is that billions and billions of dollars for the “war on drugs” will be lost if this is legalized if that’s OK. Like they used to say in the hippy days “smoke em if you got them”

Comments are closed.


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