Health News

Judge: Florida must allow smokable medical marijuana

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — A judge Tuesday ruled Florida must put a plan in place to allow medical marijuana patients to get smokable products.

  • Judge will lift smokable medical marijuana stay June 11
  • Orders the state of Florida to get a plan together
  • It will still take months before dispensaries can fill those orders

Judge Karen Gievers ruled the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana was unconstitutional last month. But the state appealed the ruling on public health concerns. The appeal placed an automatic stay on Gievers’ ruling.

On Tuesday, the judge lifted that stay, giving the state until June 11 to put a plan together. Gievers said the state’s ban caused irreparable harm to patients who could not get the treatment recommended for them.

Gievers also said there was no likelihood that the state would be successful in its appeal of her ruling.

One of those patients, Cathy Jordan, suffers from ALS and says smoking the plant is the only way she gets any relief because it dries excess saliva, increases her appetite and acts as a muscle relaxer.

Florida voters approved medical marijuana in a constitutional amendment in 2016. Jordan’s attorney, John Morgan, who spearheaded the effort to get the provision on the ballot, said the amendment’s original language did not allow for marijuana smoking in public, implying that it should be allowed privately.

Morgan has argued that smoking the drug is the only way some people can get relief for their symptoms.

“Give the people what they voted for by 72 percent and allow them to have access to their medication,” Morgan said Wednesday.

Morgan expects the state will appeal again.

“We anticipate the state will do what it does and that is delay as long as possible,” he said. “They obviously have to comply with the court’s ruling. They have to come up with a way to get this flower, this plant, to the people, and we’ll see what they do.”

The state has argued that the issue was a matter of public law and that Gievers’ ruling last month goes against the intent of the Florida Legislature, which imposed the smoking ban.

Chris Keith said years of working in construction has taken a toll, making it sometimes difficult for him to do his job.

“Sometimes my muscle spasms are so bad, I can’t move my muscles at all,” Keith said.

Keith visited an Orange County medical marijuana dispensary Wednesday. He hopes to get a prescription.

“I believe it will help me out, because it will cure a lot of muscle spasms,” Keith said.

Keith hopes medical marijuana will help him feel better — and stay on the job. He thinks the judge’s decision is a good one.

“They should always have more than one option available for anybody,” Keith said.

Even with the ruling, it could take several months to get the rules in place before dispensaries can fill recommendations for smokable cannabis. The Governor’s Office said it’s reviewing the judge’s decision.

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