The legal battle over smokable marijuana in Florida continues as an appellate court refused to lift a stay on the ruling recently made by Leon County Circuit Judge Gievers last month. While Gievers’ ruling was celebrated by patients and activists alike, the Department of Health had filed an appeal before the end of the day. John Morgan suggested Governor Rick Scott end all this now and do what is best for the people fighting for their right to live a better life, but clearly that has yet to happen.
“Not surprised. Rick Scott could end the appeal today. It will cost him his Senate bid. The makers of opioids are cheering him on,” Morgan wrote in an email to The News Service of Florida on Monday.
Earlier in June, Gievers had vacated the stay on smokable marijuana. Unfortunately, the appellate court did not side with Morgan and the patients he is representing, instead ordering that the stay would “remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal.” Basically, until the appeals court has made their final decision, smokable marijuana will still be illegal for registered patients, even if their doctor has recommended it.
“Individual patients Jordan and Dodson are exposed to irreparable harm on two fronts. First, they cannot legally access the treatment recommended for them. Second, they face potential criminal prosecution for possession and use of the medicinal substance,” the judge wrote.
In the order from June 5th by Judge Gievers to lift the stay, she wrote that the plaintiffs, Cathy Jordan and Diana Dodson – who both rely on smoking medical marijuana to treat their conditions – would suffer without legal access. The order also points out that the point of lifting the stay is to put things the way they were rightfully meant to be, before lawmakers meddled with the law passed by voters.
“Lifting the stay preserves the status quo by returning the law to its previous state as it existed following the 2016 adoption of the constitutional medical marijuana rights” and before the 2017 law went into effect, she added.
Some, like Assistant Attorney General Karen Brodeen, believe keeping the stay in place will do no harm because smokable medical marijuana will not be available right away. However, while the state is awaiting a decision they could be growing new plants – so hopefully by the time those plants would be ready to be cured and sent to dispensaries, a decision might be made. In the meantime, it would allow patients like Jordan and Dodson to at least not be breaking the law by smoking their medical marijuana, lowering the risks even if they must continue to buy their medicine outside a dispensary setting.
So far, there is no word on when the appeals court is expected to make a final ruling – either siding with Judge Gievers or siding with the state Department of Health. It could be only a few short weeks, or it could be much longer, but until a decision is made, it will continue to be illegal for Floridians to sell, purchase, possess or consume smokable forms of medical marijuana.