TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A circuit judge has given Florida medical cannabis users permission to light up…soon.
Last month, Judge Karen Gievers of the Leon County circuit court ruled Florida’s ban on smokable cannabis violated the state constitutional rights of medical patients. She additionally ordered the Florida Department of Health to rewrite regulations outlawing the sale and use of flower. This week, in a somewhat convoluted fashion, Gievers granted a stay halting the automatic stay triggered when the state appealed her previous ruling. In short, Gievers granted the request of two terminally ill medical patients that smokable cannabis be added to the list of state-legal medication.
The ban will be lifted June 11, assuming no further challenges erupt. Gievers already has said any further delays could cause significant harm to patients in need, possibly signaling her intent to continue ruling in cannabis’s favor.
Gievers also said her decision puts the law back in line with an amendment approved by voters in 2016. Last year, in contravention of voters’ will, lawmakers added the ban on smokable cannabis to the amendment, citing health risks. The bill Gov. Rick Scott finally signed allows patients to use only vapes, edibles, topicals, and tinctures.
“First, [the terminally ill patients] cannot legally access the treatment recommended for them,” Gievers explained in her decision. “Second, they face potential criminal prosecution for possession and use of the medicinal substance.”
John Morgan, the attorney for the terminally ill patients who challenged the state stay, tweeted a request that Scott drop the state’s appeal.
#SlickRick please follow the law & the will of 72% of the people. Everyday you waste taxpayers' money w/ this frivolous appeal sick people, veterans, cops, firefighters & cancer patients suffer!
Where is your compassion man?
â€œThere is no likelihood of success by the defendants" https://t.co/FWUUoo45Q1
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) June 5, 2018
“#SlickRick please follow the law & the will of 72% of the people,” Morgan tweeted. “Every day you waste taxpayers’ money w/ this frivolous appeal sick people, veterans, cops, firefighters & cancer patients suffer! Where is your compassion man?”
It could still be some time before patients are able to access to smokeable cannabis. The Department of Health will now have to start drafting regulations on cultivation and distribution of cannabis flower.
Florida is one of 29 states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. Currently, there are 117,522 registered patients and 2,644 doctors.