On May 25, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled 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.”
This is a big win for patient rights in Florida. After voters overwhelmingly approved the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. As you may know, for some patients, smoking marijuana is more effective than vaping or using edibles.
People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care, joined by patients Cathy Jordan, who has ALS, and Diana Dodsen, who has AIDS, challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options. Judge Gievers ruled that patients have the right to use medical marijuana in private under the constitution.
Unfortunately, soon after Judge Gievers’ ruling, the Florida Department of Health appealed the decision, resulting in an automatic stay and preventing the decision from going into effect immediately. We are hopeful that the court decision will remain in effect and that patients will soon have the right to use medical marijuana in whatever way that works best for them.
On Tuesday, reported in the New Times Broward-Palm Beach, the Florida State Attorney’s office in Manatee Country dropped all charges against Cathy Jordan’s husband, Robert, once it was established that Cathy needs marijuana for medical reasons.
Law enforcement officers raided the Jordan home on February 25 after a state employee who was visiting a neighbor spotted some marijuana plants on their property. After confiscating the plants, deputies referred the case to prosecutors, listing Robert for potential cultivation charges.
Cathy, the namesake to medical marijuana legislation, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, has been using marijuana to alleviate her ALS-related symptoms since 1989. The bill, which would allow patients to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to eight marijuana plants, has stalled for the year in Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature.
If you are a Florida resident, please contact your lawmakers and ask them to support medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana bills are circulating in Illinois and Florida. In Illinois, HB1, authored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), will soon be voted on in the House. According to Rep. Lang, the bill is just "one or two" votes short of passage. As for Florida, the Health Policy Committee has been assigned “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act,” named for the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, who has ALS. Police raided Jordan’s house earlier this year and seized the marijuana she was using to treat her condition.
The interest surrounding each bill has inspired editorial boards in both states to throw their support behind the issue of marijuana reform.
Illinois’ Daily Register put a face on medical marijuana. Twenty-five-year-old Ana DeVarose, an MS sufferer, spoke candidly about her debilitating symptoms and deleterious medication, which almost took a lethal toll on her body in 2011.
Like the lawmakers who have continuously voted down medical marijuana legislation, DeVarose’s grandparents oppose marijuana — at least they did until their granddaughter showed them the impact marijuana had on her symptoms.
The Prairie State’s oldest newspaper, the State Journal-Register, not only came out in favor of medical marijuana but also endorsed regulating recreational marijuana. “None of the harm from using marijuana is worse than … alcohol and tobacco. It’s hard to take anyone who argues otherwise seriously.”
In Florida, the Sun-Sentinel confronted lawmakers who treat legislation as political tug-of-wars and not statutes that impact lives:
[V]oter turnout might benefit Democrats if the medical marijuana issue is on the ballot. But that's not why the Republican-led Legislature should derail the constitutional amendment drive by instead passing a law that allows sick or dying people to smoke marijuana. The legislature should legalize medical marijuana because it shouldn't be a crime for doctors to help desperately ill patients find relief, perhaps eat a meal, or find some rest. It is the compassionate thing to do.
Hopefully more papers devote some ink to promoting reform.
Yesterday, the Miami Herald published an article discussing a recent poll that shows a majority of Florida voters support medical marijuana. The article specifically mentioned the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act and talked about how it could affect the gubernatorial race in 2014.
Apparently, certain folks in law enforcement didn’t like what they saw.
In a bizarre twist that some see as more than just a coincidence, Cathy Jordan, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and for whom the bill is named, had her home raided by Manatee County sheriffs just hours after the article was published.
Deputies entered the property, claiming they had probable cause to search based on a tip and found two mature marijuana plants and 21 immature seedlings growing inside.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s office claimed deputies had no knowledge of the pending legislation, and that they have no desire to get involved in the publicity of such a discussion.
Luckily, no arrests were made, but the case is being reviewed by the state attorney’s office.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Clemens, was not amused:
Clemens said Monday he was angry about the raid on the Jordan house.
“Do we want to be the kind of state that raids the home of a woman in a wheelchair in order to enforce outdated laws?” Clemens said Monday night.