When voters legalized medical marijuana in Florida, they did so with a landslide vote – and most, if not all, voters were expecting smoking to be allowed under the constitutional amendment they approved. Unfortunately, lawmakers took it upon themselves to specifically ban smoking – making medical marijuana available to qualified patients through vaping, edibles, oils, sprays and tinctures – and claim it was within their power to enact the ban to “regulate health, safety and welfare” of the public.
“The amendment itself says smoking is not allowed in public places. I don’t think you need to be too much of a legal scholar to understand that means it is allowed in other places,” John Morgan told reporters before the hearing began.
This Wednesday, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers heard testimony from two of the plaintiffs in the case challenging the state’s ban on smokable cannabis – Cathy Jordan of Manatee County who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and Diana Dodson of Levy County, who suffers from HIV and neuropathy. Both have been treating their medical conditions illegally – despite the new legality of their medicine – because of the way they need to use it for the best results.
“My doctors are really not concerned with the risk because I’m still alive. In ‘86, I was given three to five years to live. And I’m still here,” testified Cathy Jordan of Manatee County.
Jordan said that she has tried other forms of medicating, but none have been as effective. She told the court that edibles caused stomach pain and that vaping makes her gag, but the main side effect of smoking is dry mouth – which actually helps with the excessive drooling often caused by her condition. It also relaxes her muscles, increases her appetite and helps her to fight through depression. “Smoking makes my life a lot more bearable,” she explained.
“Today we saw a woman literally fighting for her life hoping to smoke medical marijuana … ,” Morgan said. “The state of Florida is in fact trying to take her life and so many like her. If I was (Attorney General) Pam Bondi and Rick Scott I’d take a look at this video and say enough is enough. Let’s stop the politics and let these people live.”
While we can hope that politicians take the advice given to them by John Morgan, it is unlikely to happen, which means these patients and countless others will be forced to continue to medicate illegally in a state where medical marijuana is now legal until this is resolved. While Gievers isn’t expected to take long to make a ruling, it is expected that the case will be moving beyond Leon County Circuit Court before this is all over.