Florida is one of the 30 states with medical cannabis laws on the books. The state passed Amendment 2 with 71% of the vote in November of 2016 and over 70,000 people have registered as medical marijuana patients as of now. The program has been successful in it’s early stages but continues to undergo change. One change that most of Florida’s medical marijuana patients would appreciate is the repeal of the cannabis smoking ban. While medical cannabis is legal in Florida, the smoking of the cannabis flower is not. Last week, a lawsuit was filed by multiple Florida patients to change that.
What Prompted This Lawsuit
On Friday, Judge Karen Gievers approved a lawsuit filed against the state of Florida by a small group of citizens who currently use medical marijuana. The plaintiffs argue that their Constitutional rights are being violated by being barred from smoking cannabis. They believe that the state is in certain cases nullifying doctor’s orders for a patient to smoke. Patients in Florida may use tinctures, oils, and edibles but are forbade from smoking cannabis.
For some patients, like one of the plaintiffs Cathy Jordan, not being able to smoke means not consuming her medicine the best way she sees fit. She has had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease for over thirty years and was one of Florida’s first medical cannabis patients a few years before it was legal. For Jordan, who has trouble speaking and is confined to a wheelchair, smoking cannabis is the quickest and easiest to measure way to consume the plant. She and many of the other 70,000 plus people who use cannabis medicinally believe that they deserve access to every possible way to consume their medicine. The lawsuit seeks to make that goal a reality.
The Ability To Smoke Cannabis Is Important For Patients
It is widely known that the various ways to consume the cannabis plant affect the body differently. Edibles allow for far higher doses to be taken at a time but can take up to 3 hours to provide effects, which prove them meaningless for people who need instant remedy. Tinctures and oils allow for easy application but like edibles leave many patients with dosage concerns. Smoking allows for an instantaneous low dose of cannabis that can be increased with every hit. Patients with major injuries or chronic pain could smoke a large dose while someone with only minor back pain could take a single small hit of a joint to fulfill their medical needs.
The Florida lawsuit is a step forward for medical marijuana patients everywhere. As more of the fifty US states implement their own legal cannabis policies, it is important for lawmakers to listen to citizens and seek to satisfy their goals. The cannabis legalization process is just that, and will take time to get right. But in Florida, patients and advocates like Cathy Jordan are working hard to get it right.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.