Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment back in 2016 that granted the use of medical cannabis but the Legislature passed laws in 2017 that ended up banning the sale of smokable flower, citing a public health risk.
Those Legislature laws were signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in June of 2017 and it states that patients can consume cannabis through vaping, edibles, oils & tinctures. Smoking a joint would have been considered illegal under that wording, even in the confines of your residence. However, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled on Friday, May 25, 2018, that the state’s ban on smokable cannabis is unconstitutional. Judge Gievers delivered her ruling in a 22-page breakdown stating that Florida residents…” 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.”
Florida’s Department of Health does not seem to agree with Judge Gievers ruling and will be appealing, which will impose an automatic stay. 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 action will be Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee whereby this would be the second case the court would rule on. The first case heard was last month that also involved Judge Gievers where she had ruled that a Tampa man, Joseph Redner, was entitled to possess, grow and use cannabis for juicing. Redner had been prescribed this regimen by his doctor to prevent as relapse of stage 4 lung cancer.
Cathy Jordan has had ALS since 1986 and says smoking the plant dries her excess saliva, increases her appetite and works as a muscle relaxer. Jordan said that when she was diagnosed with ALS doctors gave her 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.”
Cathy Jordan and Joseph Redner, along with other Floridians in similar medical situations, have another advocate that has been on their side from the very beginning, John Morgan. Morgan helped to get Florida’s medical cannabis amendment on the ballot and which passed in 2016. He filed a lawsuit challenging the ban two weeks after Gov. Scott signed the bill and was joined by both Jordan & Redner in the suit.
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.”
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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