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.

 

 

Supreme Court Scheduled to Discuss Lawsuit Against Colorado Legalization on Friday

Supreme Court Scheduled to Discuss Lawsuit Against Colorado Legalization on Friday

On Friday March 4th 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States will discuss and review Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado, a case that could potentially reverse Colorado’s progressive marijuana legislation.

Bordering states Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit against Colorado in December 2014, twelve months after the state enacted a legal retail cannabis market. Nebraska Attorney General, Jon Bruning claims that Colorado officials are not doing enough to ensure the legal cannabis remains in-state. Containing cannabis products is one of the stipulations listed in the Cole Memorandum, the legalization agreement between states and the federal government.

Bruning stated,

“This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost.”

The stakes are high as the ruling could affect all marijuana legislation at the state level.

“It has the potential to be a big deal,” said Sam Kamin, marijuana law professor at the University of Denver.

“Conceivably it could mean that the court finds that Colorado’s and every other state’s regulations of marijuana [are] preempted by federal law and have to be annulled or repealed, or can’t be enforced.”

The plaintiff’s are hoping the will recognize the power of the Supremacy Clause, which gives power to federal laws over those of individual states.

By invoking the Supremacy Clause, Republican supporters for the plaintiffs would be contradicting their long-held values for state’s rights. It could open the door for more legal conflict between states outside of the issue of marijuana as well.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has affected the case’s schedule as well as its potential outcome. Justice Scalia was predicted to be in support of the plaintiffs based on previous statements he made in response to questions about marijuana reform. In that instance, which was during a visit to Colorado, he used the Supremacy Clause to support continued marijuana prohibition.

Most cases seen by the Supreme Court make a journey though the lower courts, which can lead to an expedited decision by the Justices. Because this is a case between two states, it bypasses this process and goes straight to the Supreme Court. They will need to appoint a “special master” to perform much of the fact-finding and investigation, which could take years.

The Obama Administration has shown its support through the US Solicitor General by asking the Supreme Court to reject the case outright. States with marijuana laws, including Washington, Oregon and California have also shown support for Colorado.

The Solicitor General already filed a brief with the Supreme Court in December, asking that the court not review the case at all because it, “is not an appropriate case for the exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction.”

While the Obama Administration has made it clear that it will not pursue marijuana reform during their final year in office, he previously made promises to stay out of state legislation, going so far as suggesting Congress could change federal law if enough states legalize marijuana. Despite these statements, federal agencies under his purview are still aggressively policing marijuana.

Kristin Kloc (1)

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