The fight for smokable medical marijuana in Florida goes to court in May. Medical cannabis activists are suing the state to get a ban on smokable cannabis overturned. People United for Medical Marijuana (PUFMM) filed the suit in July of last year. According to sources, Leon County Judge Karen Gievers set a trial date of May 16 in the case. Judge Gievers will hear and decide the case without the help of a jury.
Florida voters legalized medical marijuana by a 71 percent majority in 2016. Subsequently, the state legislature outlawed smokeable forms of cannabis in 2017. Patients would have to rely on vaping, topicals, tinctures, edibles and other non-combustible forms of cannabis. Legislators cited the health risks of smoking as the reason for the ban.
Attorney John Morgan of Orlando chairs PUFMM. He also led the campaign to pass Amendment 2, as the law is known. Morgan believes the ban on smokable forms of marijuana violates Amendment 2.
Suit Given Go-Ahead Last Month
The state tried to have the suit dismissed at a hearing in January. But plaintiffs in the case fought back. They argued that lawmakers overstepped their authority when they banned smoking medical cannabis.
Lawyers for the legislature argued that Amendment 2 gave the responsibility of implementing it to lawmakers. Judge Gievers decided in favor of the plaintiffs and said the case could continue.
“The pending complaint contains sufficient allegations to meet the standing and active case or controversy criteria for the court to have jurisdiction over this declaratory judgment action,” the judge ruled.
Cathy Jordan is one of the plaintiffs in the case. She is an ALS patient who has been legally using cannabis medicinally for years due to special state authorization.
She and her husband Bob have lobbied for access to medical marijuana for other Florida patients. They also campaigned for the passage of Amendment 2.
Jon Mills is an attorney who helped write Florida’s medical marijuana law. He also represents Cathy Jordan. After Judge Gievers decided the case could continue, he told local media he was pleased with the decision.
“I’m delighted we can move forward. I’ve spoken with Cathy Jordan and Bob. They’re very happy. We’re happy that it came so quickly. It allows us to advance the case and that’s what we intend to do.”
Because Jordan is older than 65, she has the right to request an expedited hearing of the case under Florida law. Mills expects to exercise that right.
“We want Cathy to be able to see the results as soon as possible,” he said.
More Problems for Patients, too
Patients have other complaints about the rollout of Florida’s medical marijuana problem, as well.
Seth Hyman buys medicinal cannabis products for his daughter Rebecca, who has a seizure disorder. Recently, he told the Tampa Bay Times that access to medicine is difficult.
“With the current system, you’re very limited to the strains of product that are available,” said Hyman. “Some patients can’t even get their medicine.”
Final Hit: The Fight For Smokable Medical Marijuana in Florida Goes To Court
The case isn’t the only one against the state over its implementation of Amendment 2. Seven additional lawsuits are pending, as well. One case challenges the state’s process for issuing licenses to medical marijuana treatment centers.