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Judge Says Florida’s Ban on Smokable Medical Marijuana Is Unconstitutional

May 25, 2018
John Morgan, who helped get Florida’s medical marijuana amendment on the ballot and passed in 2016, takes questions before a trial on whether the ban on smoking cannabis is allowed under the state constitution on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Reedy)
This article has been updated.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s ban that prevents medical marijuana patients from smoking their cannabis has gone up in smoke.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers on Friday ruled that a state’s ban on smokable cannabis is unconstitutional. Florida’s Department of Health said in a statement it has appealed the ruling, which will impose an automatic stay.

Gievers wrote in her 22-page ruling that 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.”

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Ben Pollara, who runs the nonprofit medical marijuana advocacy group Florida for Care, said the ruling is a big victory for patients and voters.

Taylor Patrick Biehl of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida added that “despite legislative pushback over interpretation and ideologies, justice has been served.”

Cathy Jordan, who has had ALS since 1986, says smoking the plant dries her excess saliva, increases her appetite and works as a muscle relaxer.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 allowing the use of medical marijuana. The only mention of smoking in the amendment’s language and in an intent document during the 2016 campaign was that the Legislature and local governments could restrict it in public places.

The Legislature last year passed enacting laws that banned the sale of smoking products, citing a health risk. The laws, signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in June, say patients can use cannabis through vaping and in food, oils, sprays and tinctures.

John Morgan, who led the push to legalize medical marijuana Florida, filed a lawsuit challenging the ban two weeks after Scott signed the bill. He was joined in the suit by two patients with terminal illnesses who benefit from smokable medical marijuana.

Related

John Morgan Sues to Overturn Florida’s Smokeable-Cannabis Ban

Cathy Jordan, who has had ALS since 1986, says smoking the plant dries her excess saliva, increases her appetite and works as a muscle relaxer.

Diana Dodson, who has had HIV since 1991, testified May 16 that vaping is 50 percent less effective than smoking and that smoking allows her to get the proper dosage.

“A little woman with ALS took on the state and won. That's an amazing thing.”
Bob Jordan, plaintiff's husband

Jordan said that when she was diagnosed with ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — doctors thought she would live only three to five more years. She credits smoking with helping to prolong her life, and has been supported by her physicians.

“So many people won’t smoke due to the stigma and it being against the law. This is legitimate medicine,” she said by phone from her Manatee County home after the ruling. “This ruling is not just for me but for many other people.”

Bob Jordan, Cathy’s husband, said he was still in shock after getting the call about the ruling.

“A little woman with ALS took on the state and won. That’s an amazing thing. It is kind of surreal,” he said.

He tweeted after the ruling that “truth prevails.”

Related

Lawsuit: State of Florida Ignoring Medical Marijuana Law

Florida Department of Health spokesman Devin Galetta said in a statement that the ruling “goes against what the legislature outlined when they wrote and approved the law to implement the constitutional amendment that was approved.”

The next stop will be the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. It will be the second medical marijuana case that court will be taking up after Gievers ruled last month that a Tampa man — Joseph Redner — is entitled under state law to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing. Redner was prescribed juicing treatments from his doctor to prevent a relapse of stage 4 lung cancer.

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  • Akira G

    Governor Rick Scott appealed the ruling, so contrary to what many news sources are having Floridians believe, smoking whole flower is still illegal.

    • I can’t believe Floridians have retained that Nazi pig for governor this long. Florida is a fine state full of good people. Deserves much better.

  • Lee

    WTF is wrong with fucking Republicans? Denying pain relief to dying people. Stealing infants from their mothers WTF? The saddest part of all of this is that they all consider themselves to be Christians. And the truth is that they do represent who Christians are today, no charity, no love, no compassion. There was a time when I had been a “Born again Christian”, never again.

    • LynnieM

      Lee, don’t let the liars and assholes of the world (that would be ALL the politicians) to take away your born again status. That is something that is between you and Jesus…period. The bible is FULL of verses regarding the evil men do and where and what it will get them when Jesus returns. Hang in there. Keep Jesus and to hell with the “pit of vipers.” Jesus knew…that’s why he kicked ass and took names.

      • Scooter Bell

        Good call on thinking for yourself, LynnieM. I’m agnostic, largely in part to my cynical look on religion.
        When a religious organization says one thing/belief and their actions are opposite, they are false/untrusting/dishonorable.
        And when they support a president or politics in general, they too mark themselves as being false/untrusting/dishonorable.
        You earn respect by being honest – do what you say. BTW: Jesus might be a smoker too: https://www.ranker.com/list/evidence-that-jesus-used-cannabis/green-rush-daily . If that’s spiritual worship, I’m in! :]

      • Exactly. It’s not Jesus’ fault a bunch of assholes commandeered his name.
        BTW, Democrats are just as guilty. Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama did anything to help. In fact, just made things worse. As much as I hate to admit it, more progress is being made on Trump’s watch than any president before him. States Rights (federalism) is the catalyst and most Dems don’t believe in State’s Rights.

        This is not a partisan issue.

    • Lehigh Oilingmassager

      Excuse me Lee!
      What is wrong with you, prejudging people, by assuming that all those who are against cannabis are republicans??
      I am a registered republican and i am against jeff sessions’ agenda, and all for national legalisation of cannabis. There are many republicans who are in agreement with me. It is the damn lying media that misrepresents me and practically everything and everybody else
      I live in FL and voted Yes for legalization, which John Morgan got on the ballot
      I am a passionate advocate to get cannabis in the hands of all of us, and I sell a full spectrum cannabis product in our spa in FL myself, that is legal here in FL
      I am all for stopping people’s suffering, and I know cannabis helps tremendously
      Yes there is a lot of ignorance regarding cannabis prevalent among christians…
      It sucks. One of our lawmakers in Tallahassee goes to my church, and has opposed John Morgan, in getting the smoking of it legalized. I am for all forms of cannabis legalization because if it helps people get off opioids, and improves the quality of their lives-great!
      By the way, do all democrats agree with legalization? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. What we are really talking about is health freedom-the freedom to choose
      The federal government, nor any state govt really has no right to deny anybody the right to choose their form of medical treatment, including shoving forced vaccination down our throats like the state of California has done-which is run by democrats by the way! We should not have to have the intolorable situation of people who have cancer, having to go to mexico to receive natural, effective cancer treatment, because u.s. government agencies, the fda and cdc, forces patients to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery…and prohibits them from using cannabis, or any other natural form of treatment for cancer
      This is because of lobbyists who pay off politicians on both sides of the aisle, to support big pharma, in supporting laws that keep cannabis and other proven natural therapies away from us, so they can keep drugging us, and profiting off of people’s suffering
      Don’t just blame republicans and Christians-many non Christian people and non republicans are just as much to blame
      That is just as ignorant and narrow minded and wrong as being against legalization of cannabis
      We all are not going to agree on everything, but as for legalization, I stand with you

    • God is dead

      Shut up idiot… it is not all Republicans, you fascist moron.

  • HipJipC

    They are going to smoke it anyways, so why do these psychologically disturbed people insist on creating more criminals through archaic laws, especially those of a flippin’ plant, for the love of whatever? I KNOW. Corporate Lobbyists, the lap dogs (pant,pant) for the corporations and also their little minions, the higher middle class struggling to be like them by investing in them and their private/for-profit businesses. Profit made off the control of and suffering of human beings … this is the world of human psychopathy for wealth and power and by no means does it exist just in the higher socioeconomic levels of society … a slew of Narcissistic Personalities that indeed need to be dethroned. You can see the lower classes trash of their consumption of material resources scattered everywhere. Many of those with the most wealth and power, you can’t see their trash from the consumption of their main and most important resource, (human beings they dehumanize), as they hide them in well constructed buildings such as prisons and psychiatric facilities, have them imprisoned as domestic and sex slaves and incinerate them like they were never even here. More change is coming, the Earth will be swept clean. The war on sexual predators, the reclaiming of land from upper middle class to return it to wildlife, the wasting away of old infrastructure, Trump given CEO position to flush out the racists, bigots, misogynists, those who follow extreme Patriot or Confederate ideologies, especially those with arsenals, etc., etc., who obviously are so ignorant to what a “Trojan Horse” is … Eventually, a cataclysm … The Phoenix Rises, and from the ashes arises New Life. It is time for Change, it is Time for Human Unification. And it’s way past time to EVOLVE for real. Just because a chimpanzee can be taught how to use a cell phone doesn’t mean that Chimp is evolved. I’d like to meet our neighbors in the Cosmos and/or other dimensions. It’s a bit difficult to do when you’re on a planet with so much psychopathy and never-ending primal barbaric natures in perpetual war that repeat the same cycles over and over. Many people like me commit suicide. I tried at age 15, I swallowed about 4 oz. of cobalt chloride mixed in a glass of water. Anyone who knows my history would agree they would have done the same. But I was saved and in my mind there had to be a reason. Surviving the whole ordeal made me stronger. It takes a lot of strength and courage to exist in a world where you are an outcast if you do not subscribe to the psychopathy of the status quo, the biggest one being War. And I know first hand the methods on which they use to make you pay for that. F*** All of You. A Spirit such as mine and those of others will never die, even if you destroy the shells in which they are housed. None of you can stop what is happening. “Our” minds are focused, our numbers increasing. Time to get to “Star Trek: The NEXT Generation”. Most everyone Loves the show but too few have the desire or wherewithal to get there. No worries, eventually genetic coding will help all get there. Here’s to one world and one species, here’s to HUMAN UNIFICATION. And here’s to meeting our neighbors!! Cheers 🙂

  • Mad as hell

    Do you know who the biggest drug dealer in the state of Florida is; the only and only “Florida Department of Health”. They keep on pushes pain pills on people who are in bad pain and than complain about ALL the over doses!!! But you know and I know there is a much safer way to treat pain and a lot of other conditions. But the Florida Department of Health is too stupid; and maybe they are getting a kick back from all of the drug companies too!!! They are the ones who gave Florida the name “Pill State”!!! Don’t forget our dear old two faced Governor, he too rather let the people suffer. He and the dept of Health will NEVER win, the will of the people shall and always stand, and the ass of an Governor and the head of the Dept of Health can be replaced. Remeber all this when is comes to election times!!!!

    • Scooter Bell

      I still am confused as to why marijuana is Schedule 1 labeled, when it has proven medical benefits and is NOT addictive( see https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml ). Have the Feds/DEA been taken to court over this? The United States isn’t united anymore,
      Mad as hell. The Federal(illegal) versus State(certain states – legal) government policies shows how divided we are. And the research
      at the fed level is almost non-existent(https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/10/25/ag-sessions-blocks-progress-on-medical-cannabis-research/). So the facts remain hidden, while the misaligned medieval Federal drug policy rampages on. I hope you find the MJ you need for your pain.

    • Dirty_Old_Madman

      Due to term limits Governor Scott is out as governor in January, but now running for senator in November.

  • Dirty_Old_Madman

    I got my Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card and after seeing here that there were two companies distributing only 20 miles from where I live I went to Curaleaf in Lake Worth Florida. I purchased two vape pen cartridges one THC-Indica and one THC-Sativa, plus cannabis capsules THC-Indica and cannabis oil THC-Indica. The only one that I felt anything from was the vape sativa, and frankly not very much. Curaleaf also gave me a vape pen, which charges up but doesn’t work. I had my own pen so I tried the products and was quite dissatisfied. Does anyone know where I can get products that work? I suffer from extreme pain since failed back surgery in 1993, have been taking synthetic morphine four times a day since, and used to get good pot in Colorado until we moved to Florida 21 years ago. I’m 70 so don’t say just go out and buy some stuff, the dealers I have found all think I’m a narc. THANKS

    • Scooter Bell

      You need to move to Washington or back to Colorado – temporarily. I can go out and buy any of what you listed here in Centralia WA, with no worry of jail time or being labeled as a Narc. Sorry, not familiar with Florida shops. I’d recommend CBD-based tincture or vape. Your doctor can also help with that prescription( I think ). It seems to help pain a great deal, also gives you the munchies. :]

      • Dirty_Old_Madman

        Unfortunately I am stuck here in Florida and will just have to wait until those that decided they know what is better for those of us in constant pain.

    • Would it be OK if I converted a few of your comments on this thread into a stand-alone article for publication on my website?

      There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for Writer Beat and liked what you wrote. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. You can learn more about the site by checking out my profile (my email and the websfite address are there…intentionally vague here to avoid spamguard) or just reply “sure” and I’ll handle the rest.