Two years after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the use of medical marijuana, Gov. Rick Scott continues to try to stop patients with chronic diseases from smoking a drug their doctors say could help them.
It's not just the governor who's stood in the way of the 2016 constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis for certain patients, an amendment approved by 72 percent of Florida voters.
Last year the Florida Legislature passed a law banning smokable cannabis, a method proponents say is easier, less expensive and brings quicker relief than edibles, vaporizers, oils and sprays.
For understandable reasons last month, a circuit court judge struck down the smoking ban.
The constitutional amendment references smoking, after all. It says smoking medical marijuana in public places doesn't have to be accommodated. It's clear the amendment anticipates that cannabis would be smoked—just not in public places.
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled the
ban violates patients' constitutional rights. In her 22-page ruling, she said Floridians "have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places."
But here comes the governor, announcing he would appeal the ruling. The state Department of Health argues it "goes against what the Legislature outlined when they wrote and approved Florida's law."
Don't you hate how government can endlessly fight something it doesn't like, while spending someone else's money—yours?
Give it up, governor.
Trust that voters knew what they were doing when they passed the constitutional amendment pushed by Orlando trial attorney John Morgan, who promised this lawsuit if you signed the ban into law.
Consider people like Cathy Jordan of Manatee County, who has ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She told the Associated Press that smoking marijuana dries her excess saliva, increases her appetite and works as a muscle relaxer.
"So many people won't smoke due to the stigma and it being against the law. This is legitimate medicine," said Jordan, one of the plaintiffs. "This ruling is not just for me, but for many other people."
The governor's lawyers argue that smoking marijuana isn't an appropriate way to administer medicine. But do they have medical degrees? Shouldn't doctors decide the best administration method?
On Tuesday, Morgan announced he would lead a referendum to ask voters in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida.
In an email to the Orlando Sentinel, Morgan said he believed such a constitutional amendment "would pass overwhelmingly. And I believe in light of President Trump's position, America is ready and willing."
Earlier this month, Trump said he was inclined to support a bipartisan congressional effort to end the federal ban on marijuana, allowing states to determine the best approach.