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Attorney Sues Florida to Allow Smokeable Medical Cannabis

Attorney Sues Florida to Allow Smokeable Medical Cannabis

When the medical cannabis amendment in Florida was approved by over 71 percent of voters during the November 2016 ballots, local residents assumed the fight to legalize medical cannabis treatment was over. Instead, they were met with an uphill battle over the implementation of medical cannabis laws in the state.

Under state law, smoking cannabis is considered to be illegal. Registered patients are allowed to vape and consume edibles. Furthermore, low-THC derivatives are permissible for patients diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders and chronic muscle spasms.

This statewide ban is very controversial, as smoking is the main method of cannabis consumption for local patients. Compared to other options, the effects of smoking is instantaneous and more predictable. A patient suffering from chronic pain due to a severe back injury may choose to smoke cannabis for immediate relief. The delayed effects of non-herbal cannabis are also ineffective for patients suffering from anxiety and PTSD.

In a 2013 study, McGill University professor and physician Mark Ware concluded,

“Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers… Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, (those) who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”

In an attempt to challenge the ban, Orlando attorney John Morgan filed a lawsuit against the state. The move suggests the language in the ballot amendment that indicates smoking medical cannabis in public locations could be banned means it should be allowed in private places.

john-morgan-sues-florida-medical-cannabis-smokingJohn Morgan (Morgan & Morgan P.A. photo)

 

Morgan clarified this was the intent of the amendment. Patients were expecting lawmakers to handle the implementation process in the same way other states have enforced consumption laws – to allow cannabis to be smoke and grown privately.

Interestingly, Morgan expects the curveball to ignite even greater changes, to the tune of fully legalizing cannabis on a recreational level. If lawmakers are successful in reducing the current legislation to a very rigid set of guidelines that limits cannabis consumption to less desirable mediums, local supporters will be left with no choice but to rally towards a more comprehensive solution.

“If something is not allowed in public, it is allowed in private,” cited Morgan at a press conference outside the Leon County Courthouse. “It’s as clear to all of you as it is to any first-grader taking first-grade logic.”

john-morgan-sues-florida-medical-cannabis-smoking

Another disappointing aspect of Florida’s medical cannabis regulations is its limitations on growing licenses. At the moment, the law caps the number to 17; and every licensed grower is only allowed to serve a maximum total of 25 medical dispensaries. Additionally, a handful of cities, such as Winter Park, Orlando and Maitland, are already moving to block or limit dispensaries in areas with high demand for cannabis treatment.

In Orlando, medical cannabis dispensaries are capped at seven. Moreover, establishments are not allowed to be located within 1,000 feet of educational institutions and 200 feet of residential spaces. Dispensaries must not be within a mile from each other.

 

 

Florida Lawyer Matching Donations to Support Medical Marijuana 9 to 1

Florida Lawyer Matching Donations to Support Medical Marijuana 9 to 1

The medical marijuana debate has officially restarted in Florida. Sticking to his promise to continue fighting for legal medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, after the close loss in 2014, Orlando lawyer John Morgan announced he will match all donations to the new effort nine-to-one.

This fundraising effort is being organized by United For Care, the group that is leading the charge to put medical marijuana on the 2016 statewide ballot.

In a release by United For Care, Morgan stated,

“For every $10 donated here, the campaign will get $100 that goes directly to collecting petitions. If you donate $100 here, the campaign will literally get $1,000 that will be used to ensure that we get medical marijuana on the ballot next year.”

Morgan elaborated that the money ($1.5 million) will be spent to pay for the amount of professional signature gatherers needed to have a successful outcome. The goal is to collect an additional 500,000 signatures, each of which has an average cost of $3 per signature.

“If you and the thousands of other campaign supporters can raise $150,000, I’ll give the other $1,350,000,”

Morgan stated.

In the 2014 election Morgan and his law firm donated approximately $4 million to United For Care’s efforts. The measure did not pass because it fell just short of the 60 percent support needed from voters.

A New Medical Marijuana Amendment Has Been Submitted in Florida

A New Medical Marijuana Amendment Has Been Submitted in Florida

The loss suffered last election day by medical marijuana proponents in Florida was an especially tough one because it was such a close race. Amendment 2, the medical marijuana measure, was approved by nearly 58 percent of voters. That is the majority vote, so it would have been approved in most states. In Florida, however, 60 percent of the vote is required to pass a state constitutional amendment.

After that loss, John Morgan, the medical malpractice attorney that was leading and funding the campaign, promised that he would try again, and as of Thursday, the “war” has officially started.

Wednesday night, Morgan announced his plans to submit the new ballot language to the Secretary of State’s office Thursday morning, via his twitter account.

john morgan twitter

Thursday, it was confirmed that the new ballot language was submitted for approval, and the team has their eyes on the 2016 general election. According to Morgan, the new verbiage is almost the same, except that the so-called “loopholes” that the anti-medical marijuana campaign used to fear monger Florida residents last October have been closed.

The medical marijuana opposition campaign, Drug Free Florida, which was funded almost exclusively by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson of Nevada, was the brainchildren behind the famous advertisement (shown below) that claimed marijuana edibles would be the new date rape drug if Amendment 2 was approved. The wording of the new proposal will not allow the opposition as much creative freedom in 2016.

marijuana edibles

The United for Care organization website states that the new online petition will launch in the next few weeks. They have to start from scratch since the wording of the new amendment is slightly different. The new amendment was just submitted to the Secretary of State’s office for approval. Once the verbiage is approved, United for Care will begin petitioning for 68,314 signatures from registered Florida voters. Those signatures must be collected in order to turn the ballot language into the Florida Supreme Court for review and validation.

Once the Florida Supreme Court approves, activists will begin petitioning again. The second round of collection must total at least 683,140 signatures, which must be collected within one year in order to qualify for the 2016 general election ballot. The deadline is February 1, 2016.

The differences between the 2014 and 2016 ballot languages are outlined below, courtesy of the Miami Herald:

PROPOSED 2016 AMENDMENT vs. 2014 AMENDMENT

2016 Title: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

2014 Title: Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions

2016: Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

2014: Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

2016: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

2014: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

2016: A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.

2014: A physician licensed in Florida shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law for issuing a physician certification to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in a manner consistent with this section.

2016: “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

2014: (1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

2016: “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014), and, in addition, “Low-THC cannabis” as defined in Section 381.986(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2014), shall also be included in the meaning of the term “marijuana.”

2014: “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2013).

2016: “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

2014: “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana or related supplies by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver for use by a qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

2016: “Caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time.

Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.

2014: “Personal caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. A personal caregiver may assist no more than five (5) qualifying patients at one time. An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility may serve as a personal caregiver to more than five (5) qualifying patients as permitted by the Department. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use by the qualifying patient.

2016: “Physician” means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

2014: “Physician” means a physician who is licensed in Florida.

2016: In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.

2014: No such language

2016: Nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section.

2014: No such language

2016: Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section shall affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

2014: Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

2016: Nothing in this section shall permit the operation of any vehicle, aircraft, train or boat while under the influence of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

2014: Nothing in this law section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

2016: Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

2014: Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

2016: Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to negligence or professional malpractice on the part of a qualified patient, caregiver, physician, MMTC, or its agents or employees.

2014: No such language

2016: Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.

2014: Procedures for the issuance of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.

2016: Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.

2014: Procedures for the issuance of personal caregiver identification cards to persons qualified to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.

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