Florida Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled last Friday that the statewide ban on smokable marijuana is unconstitutional, potentially leading to a legal appeal by the state’s Department of Health. Though the ban appears to be going up in smoke, the promise of an appeal causes an automatic stay in the judge’s decision for the time being. Meanwhile, advocates of legal medical marijuana are claiming victory.
The Sunshine State has seen its fair share of controversies since it legalized medical marijuana through passage of Amendment 2 in November of 2016 by a 70% margin. Allegations of corruption have been widespread from the beginning, specifically regarding a patient approval processed mired in bureaucratic red tape and overseen by a non-elected official who is also a very close friend of the governor. News of the alleged corruption began to go viral when a 77-year old cancer patient and strip club owner sued the state for his right to grow a unique strain of marijuana recommended by his oncologist that could potentially add years to his life. Plaintiff Joe Redner won his lawsuit, and the ruling judge in his case was none other than the same Judge Karen Gievers.
Florida ongoing struggle with legal marijuana laws
Even though Amendment 2 made medical marijuana legal in the state of Florida, the only mention of “smokable” cannabis appears in a section related to local governments. According to the law, municipalities can “restrict” the smoking of weed in public spaces in any way that they see fit.
This legal loophole opened the door to the now-deem-unconstitutional state legislation which banned the sales and use of smokable marijuana and related devices like bongs, pipes, and dab rigs. In a 22-page filing, Judge Gievers states that patients “have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”
In an odd side note, the Orlando Sentinel posted quote from a person living with HIV since 1991, a Ms. Diana Dodson, who appears to have claimed that vaping marijuana is less than 50% as effective as smoking it. However, current research shows the opposite to be true. The cannabis magazine High Times explains that one of the many benefits of vaping weed is that it is more efficient and far healthier than the smoked variety, which contains 111 extra compounds “including a wide range of toxins.”