Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 25, 2018

    A Florida Circuit Court judge ruled today that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

    Lawmakers in 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A — which sought to amend provisions in Amendment 2, a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, SB 8A prohibited the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and barred the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016.

    Backers of Amendment 2, including the group Florida for Care and longtime medical activist Cathy Jordan, challenged the ‘no smoking’ ban — arguing that lawmakers improperly sought to overrule the will of the electorate. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers today ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

    “Section 381.986, Florida Statutes (2017) unconstitutionally restricts rights that are protected in the Constitution, and so the statutory prohibition against the use of smokeable marijuana permitted by [a] qualifying patient is declared invalid and unenforceable,” the judge ruled. “Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”

    NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.

    “This ruling is a victory for Florida voters and, in particular, Florida’s patient community,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “These legislatively enacted restrictions arbitrarily sought to limit patients’ choices in a manner that violated the spirit of the law, and cynically sought to deny patients the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.”

    The Court’s opinion in the case: People United for Medical Marijuana et al v. Florida department of Health et al., appears online here.

    41 responses to “Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking”

    1. Julian says:

      Speaking of amending voter iniatiated laws:


      Republicans in the Michigan legislature are afraid of Democratic turn out when the new marijuana legalization initiative hits the polls. So state Republicans are proposing to enact mj legislation to amend the voter initiative to stop it from seeing a vote and of course, to block things like home grow, smoking marijuana or too many Democrats voting them out of power. Of course, federal courts would cry foul, but the delay tactic would scar the initiative and more importantly supress Democratic turnout.

      Problem is the R’s don’t have enough House votes before the June 5th deadline.

      …in a state where the voter caging Republican cro$$check program that purged 450,000 Democratic last name votes where Trump only “won” by 15,000 votes I call this poetic justice.

      When will Republican voters realize they’re voting against their own interests?

      When will Democratic voters realize if they just got out and VOTED we would already have marijuana legalized at the federal level?

      I’m puttin up blue signs when I drive through Michigan on my summer road trip.

    2. Brandon says:

      I wonder how this will effect Pennsylvania’s law since you are not allowed to smoke marijuana for medical use.

    3. Tellmaster207 says:

      Sulfide, dept of health has filed an appeal.

    4. Forgiven says:

      One thing that needs to be noted about this case. It was instantly appealed and still makes smoking whole plant illegal until it is through at least the next court hearing. That is how I read it at least.

    5. Marijuana plays important role in our society it can heal and help to ease the pain.

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