Florida: Lawsuit Challenges Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

Tallahassee, FL: Florida for Care representatives took legal action last week challenging a statewide ban on the smoking of medicinal cannabis. The suit was filed just days after lawmakers approved legislation, Senate Bill 8A, amending Amendment 2 – a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved the initiative in November.

Senate Bill 8A, which was signed into law on June 23, prohibits the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and bars the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.”

Florida for Care’s lawsuit argues, “Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream. … By redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of ‘a licensed Florida physician’ and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process.”

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.

If the court invalidates SB 8A, the task of writing the rules for implementing the initiative – which must be operational by October – will fall to the Florida Department of Health.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500, or visit: https://www.normlfl.org/.