Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking

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 thoughts

  1. In what other universe would an adult citizen be attacked by “rulers” for growing a healing plant in his yard to smoke?
    United we stand, legalize freedom.

    1. Officer: “License and registration, please, sir. Do you have any marijuana in this vehicle?”
      Stoner: “Here is my license, and registration.”
      Stoner: “Am I free to go?”
      Officer: “No. I am detaining you. Do you have any marijuana in this vehicle?”
      Stoner: “I do not consent to any searches.”
      Officer: “That’s not what I asked you! Step out of the vehicle, now, sir! I’m going to ask you one last time: do you have any marijuana in this vehicle?”
      Stoner: “I choose to remain silent.”
      Officer: “Boy, you are fucking with the wrong cop, do you understand me? Now you answer my question!”
      Stoner: “I want a lawyer.”
      Officer: “Fine. But first, we’re gonna do a little roadside blood draw!”
      BLAM! BLAM!BLAM!BLAM! BLAM!BLAM!

      Stoner “…”

    2. Our nation’s Capitol:

      https://www.marijuanamoment.net/congressional-republicans-block-marijuana-and-drug-policy-reforms-in-dc/

      The Citizens of Washington, District of Columbia, our nation’s capitol have once again been barred from their voter initiative to regulate canabis by a Repulican controlled Congress.

      It’s bad enough people call this a Democratic Republic when a population larger than the state of Wyoming has a Congresswoman (Eleanour Holmes Norton) with no valid vote on the floor of the House that oppresses the people’s %80 majority vote.

      Free the Weed for those in need.
      Make Congress go and let it grow.
      No taxation without representation.

      For once, we all need to march FOR DC, not just to it.

  2. great, and long-awaited day for Florida patients! Hurray for REAL health and wellness, children and families, VETERANS.

  3. Marijuana Prohibition is a not just a failed policy, it is a massive industry, with all kinds of formal and informal associations among and between many political power structures.

    Prohibition at-large is “self-aware” and motivated by its own self-interests. It feeds; it markets itself to consumers; and, it fights to protect itself.

    Reefer Madness isn’t going down without a fight, as Paul’s article illustrates. Keep on attacking the monster!

    Congratulations, and thank you, to all involved in pulling off this very significant win for medical marijuana patients, and for civilized society.

    1. The word “consumer” is often used interchangeably with the word “customer” in our society, which is misleading.

      Corporations are the consumers; customers are the food.

      Like the gun, corporations are, on a meta-level, feeding machines, designed to increase the efficiency of killing and eating things. Any CEO can tell you, they are not there to serve society, call Mother Teresa. They are there to make a profit. It’s no secret. But it is easy to miss the implications of that.

      Capitalism is self-serving. It only coincidentally, if ever, serves the public good. “Free” markets, without regulation, will eat a society until that society can no longer survive, and has no blood left to drink.

      Corporations are feeding machines; but they only serve those who profit at the top of that machine. The rest of us are prey.

      When you hunt with a gun, you find a living creature, kill it and eat it. That’s grisly enough, but it’s not supposed to include hunting people.

      But when you hunt with a corporation, you take everything another person has worked for over a lifetime, all the fruit of his or her labor, and make it your own. You eat not only animals, but entire societies.

      It makes Corporatists inhuman, essentially, analogous to vampires! Only they’re not supernatural, they are real, and they are us.

      1. MLK, was killed, for ‘dissing’ capitalism.

        you have ‘outed’ yourself.

        run for your life, NOW !!!

        ‘they’ are coming for you.

      2. MLK was a hero.
        I appreciate the comparison, but in fact, I am no hero.
        Kevin Wong is a hero.

        View image on Twitter
        Khaled Beydoun
        @KhaledBeydoun
        15-year old Peter Wang was a hero. Before he was killed in Parkland, he bravely held doors open so that his classmates could escape.

        He was a member of the ROTC, and although not a veteran, should be remembered for serving his classmates this #MemorialDayWeekend2018.
        9:50 AM – May 26, 2018

      3. Correction: that’s Peter Wang, not Kevin Wong.
        My sincere apologies.

      4. …oh, and one more thing, “RUN”…
        I’ve been “outing” myself at the top of my voice for decades. I am still waiting on you to get a clue!

      5. Dain,

        The bottom line is that you have the courage of your convictions. Sometimes we have to try to shed that fear and reluctance to “out” ourselves on the issues. You’ve never hesitated to do so.

  4. Yes! THIS is why I donate to NORML. A victory for voter initiated direct democracy, a victory for smoking marijuana against predatory pharmaceuticals and private prisons… a victory for freedom everywhere.

    Sorry Yearbait; can’t win’em all!

    1. Not a problem, but the contention vs. the feds could be resolved when this reform of the federal definition of marijuana gets removed from Schedule 1 to let the States, and the people, manage the cannabis plant, and its smoke, in accord with the Constitution and state law:

      The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is the intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

      1. Lol… so I’ve got you answering to “Yearbait?” Hast thow no dignity, oh the Baitest of the Year?

        Well, there IS a problem. It’s a problem when you consistently enter a forum with your quasi-corporatist-prohibition to send sick people who smoke marijuana to prison while hiding behind the smoke and mirrors of rescheduling to schedule 2 (so Big Pharma can get rich selling mislabeled CBD and marinol while whole plant marijuana remains as illegal as cocaine).

        That’s about the jist of it. I’ve asked you nicely to say whether you support rescheduling or descheduling marijuana. You never answer directly accept to show you support resecheduling with that ridiculous mantra of “smoke” and “children” you keep parroting.

        I’ve called you out as Project SAM. Your silence speaks volumes.

        Here’s a “project” for you SAM; go to a local detention center, find a child who has been separated from his or her parents for smoking medical marijuana after hours, look them in the eye and ask them if they feel they belong where they are?

        Then look in the mirror and ask yourself the same question.

        “Open your eyes and look within;
        Are you satisfied with the life you’re livin?”

        -Robert Nesta Marley

      2. More like Project SARC (Smart Approach to Relegalizing Cannabis). We face the consternation of the DEA, and NORML bloggers. Who’d a thunk it?

        Did you know that the World Health Organization refers to “smoked cannabis” in its recent report?

        “Absorption of ?9-THC in smoked cannabis is rapid and measurable levels are observed in plasma seconds after the first puff.”

        http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/Section2.CannabisPlant.Pharmacology.pdf

        Main page:

        http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/ecdd_40_meeting/en/

      3. There once was a guy named Year of Action
        His moniker was a great distraction
        His definition of freedom needs a caption:
        Outlaw the smoke is his main attraction

        You may gain money but it won’t gain traction
        Synthetic weed aint worth a fraction
        When my green terpene lights with exaction
        What I call freedom you claim infraction

        You make deals with Devils
        Who patent life on corporate levels
        But we refuse your molecules
        While I ignite this with my rebels
        You choose to confuse
        We free who you accuse
        You profit and abuse
        Repent before you lose
        You can take your schedule twos
        Like your @$$ takes my shoes
        Light your grass when NORML sues
        And read it in the news

        While youre still chokin
        On my smokin
        The only law you are provokin
        Is one that can’t be broken
        You can’t fool the Golden Rule
        Jail bars for smokin?
        I’ll still be tokin’
        From Austin, Texas to Hoboken
        Think I’m jokin’?
        Then quit soakin
        In those pills got people croakin
        You think that I have spoken
        But lobby days have just awoken

      4. The WHO recently says marijuana never caused an overdose but they lie and say it causes poor life decisions and proliferation of STD’s.

        The DEA admits no one has ever died from marijuana consumption but recently lies that vaping marijuana is more dangerous than it’s combusted smoke:
        https://mobile.twitter.com/tomangell/status/1002202985689243649

        I advocate for legal smoking of marijuana because incarcerating the sick and the poor for marijuana smoke far outweighs the benefits of its fairly taxed legality. But I can admit smoke contains toxins and vaping does not.

        Can you accept the truth Yearbait?

      5. You’re really stuck on this thing. What I can’t figure out is why.

      6. Good question.

        The reason why, is to restore our constitutional rights to grow the cannabis plant. Cannabis was widely grown when the Constitution was written. The States then had a Convention where they demanded limited powers of government in order to secure our rights. They wrote the 9th Amendment to prevent the enumerated 2nd Amendment from being used to “deny or disparage” our right to grow the cannabis plant. They wrote the 10th Amendment to ensure that the right to manage the growing of the cannabis plant was “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.

        The reformed definition shown above will right the wrongs by defining marijuana in a way that conforms to the Necessary and Proper clause, by specifying its meaning to point out the narrow interpretation of the “not unconstitutional (wink, wink)” current definition. In doing so, it also restores the 9th and 10th Amendment rights of real people to grow the de-scheduled cannabis plant under the laws of the State that the grower is in, and it reinforces the Well Regulated Militia clause of the 2nd Amendment. It creates a symbiotic business relationship between the local growers and their corporate customers, who are not real people but employ them, to engage in synergistic cannabis commerce.

        Instead of abiding the DEA’s false trope of “smoked marijuana”, the reformed definition calls the plant “cannabis”, and calls the smoke “marijuana”. Is it not more accurate to say that burning the cannabis plant creates cannabis smoke, which has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of marijuana?

        The reformed definition with its controls on the de-scheduled cannabis plant, could mitigate the political tribalism with a cooperative politics that is analogous to the homeostasis experienced by users of the cannabinoids derived from the plant. In short, cannabis could bring people together.

      7. Yearofaction,
        I just don’t see how redefining the word “marijuana” is going to do anything good, or bad. I can’t imagine anybody falling for that.

        Is a narcotics detective going to ignore the home-grow (because it’s not “smoke”) and ONLY arrest the grower for the SMOKE coming off the tip of his joint? Are the cops going to collect the SMOKE as evidence? How? Are the going to pump it into balloons? Point oh oh oh one grams of “marijuana” never mind the fifty plants.

        We already have a government office, with government officials and officers, whose mandate includes detecting and combating dangerous smoke. It’s called “the Fire Department!”

        Would we have to redefine the word “ganga” also? And “bud?” Will other flowers, like the rose, become illegal if they produce a “bud?”

        Tommy Chong went to prison for paraphernalia. Not “marijuana.” Not “cannabis.” Blown glass and metal. Art! Semantic shell games wouldn’t have helped him.

        It’s not all that complicated, yearofaction. Just Legalize It!

        Speaking of action, have you EVER hit the NORML “ACT!” button?

        Why not?

      8. Outlawing the smoke or combustion of cannabis is not “descheduling” cannabis. Yearbait knows this. It’s rescheduling it like cocaine. This isn’t just Project SAM making these insidious lies; Roger Stone lies and says he supports legalization unless you read between his rescheduled lines. But the Feds are catching up to his game. Karma is a bit€h.

      9. @Dain Bramage, You’re getting there.

        “Marijuana”, ganga”, and “bud” are indeed slang, but marijuana is in federal law. Its definition is equivocal (maybe it was an efort to connote the slang), which is why it needs to be reformed. The reformed definition does not redefine the term, it specifies the narrow meaning which is already in there. It is the DEA, et.al. who agreed to use the broad interpretation, which was later codified by their false trope that “…the term ‘marijuana’ refers to ‘the marijuana plant, considered as a whole’.”.

        It is a obviously a trope because it uses the rhetorical device of synecdoche to claim that “marijuana” means “the marijuana plant”, and the rhetorical device of metonymy to substitute “the marijuana plant” for “the plant Cannabis sativa L.”, in order to aggrandize the first fragment of the entire definition which contains many exceptions. It is false because it miscontrues the meaning of that overwrought definition in contempt of our Constitution. Perhaps they thought they could enforce it with care, to hide the contemptuous interpretation but…, Nah.

        If the definition of marijuana is reformed to unequivocally be just the smoke, then when it gets removed from Schedule 1, it could get regulated by the existing “No Smoking!” laws that the local Fire Dept. is concerned with. That could accompany the elimination of federal paraphernalia penalties.

        Legalize “it”? The plant, the drug, the smoke, that’s “them”.

        I like the Act! button. Like many others, I edit the text.

        We can’t change the past. Let’s change the future bigly with the careful reform of the federal definition of marijuana.

        @Julian, Reforming the federal definition of marijuana to unequivocally distinguish marijuana from the cannabis plant, will de-schedule only the many forms of unburned cannabis. Removing cannabis smoke from Schedule 1 would take more work. Keep at it!

      10. Yearofaction,

        I think you should have been a computer programmer, instead of a student of constitutional law. If only society behaved so rationally, maybe we could just tweak a legal parameter, and be done with it.

        For the sake of discussion, let’s just assume that, somehow, you get your federal definition of the word “marijuana” modified to mean just the smoke and not the cannabis plant. Now what?

        While I am not qualified to make legal critiques on matters of constitutional law, and I do admit that, still it seems to me that the war on drugs, including cannabis, would simply continue apace.

        Why? Well… One would think that our legal system, with all its technical specificity, operated like a computer program; if the control sequence is not producing the desired behavior from the computer, the solution is simply to change the programming.

        But, as Julian has just pointed out in detail, the prohibitionists are not interpreting the laws of our country in good faith. They are bending over backwards to misinterpret them, or even just roll right over our most basic civil and human rights!

        They would do the same with your modified definition of marijuana, would they not?

        They would just say, at every turn, “in order to eliminate the marijuana, we must destroy the cannabis.” And the grower winds up in jail just the same.

        (To be continued…)

      11. Yearofaction (continued…)

        Remember, the marijuana smoke is the shit! Legalizing that part is critical. No need for the fire department, it’s just pot!

        If we could put your change in effect today, I don’t think we would even notice the difference. The cops will bust your weed, your scales, your bong, your house, your car, your children, your poor old confused and aged grandma, and oh yeah, shoot your fucking dog.

        And that’s if you’re white! If gets worse from there.

        None of that shit has anything to do with some technical distinctions between plant and smoke; these are jack-booted thugs, this is Police State Fascism.

        When the Courts say Congress doesn’t have to be right, and when Congress says Traitor Trump doesn’t have to obey any laws at all, and when Traitor Trump says he wants a drug policy like Duterte’s, and says he wants to be President For Life… That’s when you know we’ve got bigger goddamn problems!

        They’re called “Republicans.” (They go by other names as well, of course: fuckwads, scumbags, dipshits, jagoffs, dumbfucks, and so forth.)

        So, Yearofaction, go for it! I don’t think you’re right, frankly; but I can’t say you’re entirely wrong, either.

        But if you’re hitting the Act!-tab and sending the (modified) letters, at least you’re raising awareness of these issues!

      12. Okay, yearofaction could be Project SAM. That could explain the obsessive specificity.

  5. that is excellent news !!

    now that we are no longer limited to
    “a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping”
    and can use whole herb marijuana,
    WILL WE BE ABLE TO GROW OUR OWN ??

    it will be worth the $200 per year for the medical marijuana card,
    if we can GROW OUR OWN marijuana.

    1. Unfortunately for growing our own, the Florida State Supreme Court refused to take up the case:

      http://floridapolitics.com/archives/264697-supreme-court-home-grow

      The battle continues.

      Meanwhile I suggest Florida voters look carefully at their state legislators and Congressman before elections this year:

      http://www.norml.org/congressional-scorecard

      Vote Democratic before more judges are all turned into prohibitionists.

      And if in that rare instance we get a prohibitionist Democrat, like Debbie Washmoney Shultz, (who takes money from private prisons and offshore pharmaceuticals accounts like Novo Nordisk that’s losing money on their deadly diabetic pills now that Florida patients can smoke a bowl in peace)… then vote for Independent Tim Canova in Broward County:

      http://www.timcanova.com

      1. Debbie Washmoney is in the wrong party. Her M.O. has G.O.P written all over it. We must cleanse our party of bloodsuckers like her.

      2. Agreed. We need every Democrat — but at some point, a DINO just isn’t worth the letter “D.”

  6. Speaking of amending voter iniatiated laws:

    https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/05/28/michigan-republicans-pot-legalization-deadline/645315002/

    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.

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

    1. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not have voter initiatives. The Florida initiative had language allowing smokesble forms of marijuana consumption and the Florida legislature, as their state Supreme Court ruled, unconstitutionally removed that part of the initiative.

      But there are a variety of lawsuits possibly headed to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court suing opioid pharmaceuticals for overdose and opioid related deaths that could be tied to mmj expansion.

      As longitudinal data continues to roll in on how mmj patients are weaned from opioid prescriptions within 6 months, such as in Canada:

      http://norml.org/news/2018/05/17/canada-patients-dramatically-reduce-their-opioid-use-following-cannabis-access?link_id=13&can_id=b6f7cf6c8adff17fc7df44074f89ee7a&source=email-norml-news-of-the-week-5172018&email_referrer=email_355689&email_subject=norml-news-of-the-week

      …there exists a tangible argument with awardable damages in court for companies like Purdue (oxycontin) and Insys Therapuetics (fentanyl, dronabinol) that have spent money blocking marijuana reform nation wide.

  8. 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.

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