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Florida Matters Preview: Grady Judd vs. John Morgan on Amendment 2

The Ledger

This November, voters in Florida will decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.  Recently, The Ledger of Lakeland hosted a forum on Amendment 2. The forum was moderated by Lenore Devore, the paper's editor, and featured Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Orlando attorney John Morgan.

We will bring you the highlights of the forum on Florida Matters Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

The forum featured questions submitted by Ledger readers, including a question to Judd about whether or not it would be easier to police marijuana if small amounts were decriminalized.

Credit The Ledger
The Ledger
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

GRADY JUDD: First off, I’m against legalization of marijuana. That may come as a surprise to y’all. [laughter] But the answer to that is yes. It would be much easier for my deputies to say, well, you’ve got an ounce or more, you’re in violation of the law. You’ve got an ounce or less so you’re OK.  That would be easy. This medical marijuana amendment is going to have all kinds of unintended consequences and be exceptionally complicated to enforce. It’s going to be exceptionally complicated for people to use it with a permit without getting in trouble. And the classic is, someone is driving the car and we stop them for speeding, and we say, “Ma’am, may we see your driver’s license?” … “Yes” … “I noticed you’ve got marijuana on your front seat.” … “Oh, yes, that’s my husband’s medical marijuana. “ … “Well that’s good but he’s not in there, so guess what? Do you have a medical marijuana card?” … “Well, no.” … “Well, you’re under arrest because you’re doing a regulatory violation…”

So, the answer is, it would be a lot easier to either vote it up or vote it down, but the pollsters know that the people of the state of Florida won’t do that. And this is the segue into the ultimate -- what the majority of the people, not the sick people, I recognize there are  some sick people who see some anecdotal evidence here – but this is what the majority of people who are pro-marijuana are after.

LENORE DEVORE: Mr. Morgan, the amendment provides specific limitations of liability to the prescribing physicians, producers, sellers and qualified users of this product. Can you explain how the liability limitation will not be used to enable the delivery of unsuitable and unjustified product to the marketplace?

JOHN MORGAN: Well, this has been an interesting journey for me, because I just came from Daytona Beach where I debated a doctor, and I heard doctors talk today, and they’re very worried about the immunity that I’ve given doctors.  I’ve never been accused of giving doctors a break. I mean, if these doctors wanna be sued, god, I’ll sue ‘em, if that’s what they want. 

Credit The Ledger
Orlando attorney John Morgan

It would be have been much simpler and much better for all of us if this was done legislatively. There’s no question about it.

But when Cathy Jordan and Bob Jordan – two Republicans I think – went to Tallahassee to testify, they told her no. They said, we don’t even want to hear it. So we have an imperfect vehicle, which is a constitutional amendment. We looked at states like Colorado and California and said, we don’t want that. So we did it a different way. We granted immunity because we don’t want to be out here – even though I’m in the liability business – we didn’t want to be out here trying to make a case or money off doctors who prescribe marijuana.  And so, the reason it had to be done this way is because it’s a constitutional amendment.

The most important thing to remember is this: the most important part is going to happen after we pass it, because we’re gonna pass it, and when we do, then it’s going to go to Tallahassee, and there’s going be an enactment, and the state legislature … and the governor, will be in charge of those enactments and those tweaks.

So to all the doctors who are upset that I gave them immunity: I’m sorry. I won’t next time. But to Cathy Jordan, whose voice was not heard in Tallahassee, her voice is being heard now, loud and clear. [applause]

Lottie Watts is our Florida Mattersproducer, and she also covers health and health policy for.