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Smoking Medical Marijuana in Florida

In 2016, Florida citizens voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Since then, the state has been embroiled in multiple legal battles over how to ingest the medicine. Because the amendment does not specifically permit smoking marijuana, the state has banned usage in that way. Orlando attorney John Morgan has been at the forefront of the battle, bringing a suit against the state on behalf of two medical marijuana patients who cannot ingest their medicine in any other way. These patients must smoke marijuana in order to receive its medicinal benefits. One plaintiff, Cathy Jordan of Manatee County, states that she is unable to take oral forms of medication due to ALS. She has been fighting the degenerative disease for 20 years, and smoking marijuana is the only thing that keeps her lungs clear.

Amendment 2 of the Florida Constitution has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but expressly prohibits smoking medical marijuana in public places. However, it does not specifically take a stance on smoking in private places. Some say that the provision that prohibits smoking in public means that smoking in private is within the limits of the law. John Morgan argued that voters knew what the amendment represented when 71% voted in favor. A 2012 study Morgan cited from the American Medical Association states that there have been no reported cases of lung ailments or cancer related to smoking marijuana. Another plaintiff from Levy County, Diana Dodson, suffers from HIV and neuropathy and like Cathy Jordan, attributes her survival to smoking marijuana.

On May 25th, Judge Karen Gievers of Leon County Circuit Court ruled that prohibiting patients who have a doctor’s recommendation to ingest and smoke marijuana violated the 2016 amendment. Directly after this ruling, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Department of Health submitted an appeal, which resulted in an automatic stay. John Morgan tweeted at Governor Scott shortly thereafter, stating “Please follow the law & the will of 72% of the people. Everyday you waste taxpayers’ money w/ this frivolous appeal sick people, veterans, cops, firefighters & cancer patients suffer! Where is your compassion man?”

On June 4th, a short hearing was held in Leon County Circuit Court, where state attorneys argued that the stay should not be lifted. They argued that if patients were allowed to smoke marijuana, they could not legally obtain it because Florida does not have regulations on smokable marijuana yet. Judge Gievers lifted the automatic stay, and gave the state one week to create a plan to make smokable marijuana accessible to patients in need. She stated the stay caused “irreparable harm” to plaintiffs who challenged the law which does not allow them to legally take their medicine. She wrote, “First, [plaintiffs] cannot legally access the treatment recommended for them. Second, they face potential criminal prosecution for possession and use of the medicinal substance.” Gievers made it exceptionally clear that smokable marijuana is only legal for those who have a qualifying disease, have obtained a recommendation from a licensed doctor, and have been registered in the statewide patient registry.

Call Pallegar Law, P.A. Today for Legal Representation

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime related to marijuana, call an aggressive Sarasota criminal defense attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. Call 941-893-5816 to set up an initial consultation.

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