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John Morgan plays hero to the ’71 percenters’

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

“Compassionate capitalist” John Morgan came to Tallahassee Thursday morning, holding court for the cameras soon after he sued the state over not allowing medical marijuana to be smoked.

Pay no attention to the fact that Morgan had electronically filed his lawsuit an hour before: It was about speaking to and “for the people.”

“Today is a day that should not have been necessary,” he said outside the Leon County Courthouse. “The people of Florida knew exactly what they were voting on … the vast majority, if not 100 percent, knew that smoke was included.”

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

“I’m right, and 71 percent of the people of Florida know I’m right,” he said. He also plans to add more marijuana-using patients as plaintiffs, including people suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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,” he said last month.

Morgan slammed the Estero state representative, a budget manager at Florida Gulf Coast University, calling him a “bean counter.”

“Do the Ray Rodrigueses of the world know better than doctors?” Morgan said, shooing gnats from his face in Tallahassee’s 86-degree morning heat.

He also mentioned a conversation he had last year with a county sheriff, who was concerned about medicinal cannabis users lighting up in coffee shops.

“I’m like, ‘Dude, you can’t smoke cigarettes in Starbucks (as it is). What are you talking about?’ ” Morgan said.

He was on shakier footing when reporters asked why his amendment didn’t make clear that it contemplated allowing the smoking of medical marijuana. Morgan explained he included such language in an “intent statement,” but not in the text of the amendment.

The amendment says “(n)othing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.”

He analogized the situation to a pool sign that says, “No swimming without lifeguard on duty.” It’s implied that when there’s a lifeguard around, swimming is allowed, he said.

Right, but why not make it crystal clear? he was asked.

“It speaks for itself,” he said. “Now, if you can’t figure it out, I can’t help that.”

The full press availability can be viewed in a Periscope clip below:

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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