Medical marijuana patients in the state of Florida “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.”
So said Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in a recent 22-page ruling declaring that the state’s current ban on cannabis smoking was unconstitutional. Many residents saw this news as a green light to light up legally in the privacy of their own home…
NOT SO FAST…
There is currently no legal smokable cannabis product on the shelves of Florida MMJ dispensaries and, as expected, the Florida Department of Health has appealed the ruling, which will kick the case over to Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals and keep the ass-backwards policy in place until that petition, hopefully, goes up in smoke as well.
A spokesman for the anti-cannabis Health Department stated that Gievers’ ruling “goes against what the legislature outlined when they wrote and approved the law to implement the constitutional amendment that was approved.”
SO WHAT IS THE LAW?
In November of 2016, Florida voters rushed the polls in favor of Amendment 2 which legalized medical marijuana use by altering the Florida state constitution. The vote was 71.3% to 28.7% and won a majority vote in every single county in the state. So yeah, it was a pretty big deal.
Note that there was very little mention in that constitutional amendment regarding the smoking of cannabis - mostly regarding smoking outside/in public and how to regulate that.
Fast forward a year to 2017 and Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that effectively banned smokeable cannabis products from being sold or used at all based on some politicians’ half-baked assertion that smoking cannabis is “unhealthy”. The state also argued that by allowing cannabis smoking in the medical marijuana arena it would act as a “backdoor attempt” to legalize recreational cannabis use as well.
This new state-wide provision sparked lawsuits on behalf of patients who had legitimate medical conditions that could be effectively treated with smokable cannabis and not with edible or topical cannabis products.
It all culminated in Judge Gievers’ ruling in which she invoked both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and put this heroic quote on the permanent judicial record, “Just as no person is above the law, the legislature must heed the constitutional rights Floridians placed in the Constitution in 2016. The conflicting, overreaching 2017 statute, while presumably adopted in good faith and with good intentions, cannot be allowed to overrule the authority of the people to protect rights in the Constitution."
Judge Gievers sent a strong message with her ruling and the language that she chose to deliver it with.
Those who fought the hardest to see Amendment 2 succeed felt that justice had been served, but it took Rick Scott and AG Pam Bondi less than 10 minutes to file their appeal via the Health Department.
Florida voters need to send just as strong of a message when they hit the polls this November.