A year-long fight for patients' rights in Florida's nascent medical marijuana program will finally be resolved this month, as the Sunshine State plans to welcome smokable cannabis to dispensary shelves.
Late last month, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Florida's ban on smokable pot for qualified medical marijuana patients was unconstitutional and demanded that the state's Department of Health (DOH) rewrite Florida's cannabis laws to include the legal sale and consumption of flower. Originally brought on by high-profile attorney and cannabis advocate John Morgan, the decision was widely-heralded as a victory for cannabis patients across the state. As soon as that ruling came down, though, lawyers for the state of Florida appealed the decision, placing an indefinite stay on the DOH changes.
According to the Miami Herald, Judge Gievers once again put patients' needs above bureaucratic red tape, halting the state's appeal stay and ordering the Florida DOH to put together a plan of action for allowing smokable marijuana by June 11th — one week's time.
"Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places," Judge Gievers declared in her late-May ruling.
In arguments for and against the indefinite smoking stay presented on Monday, a defense attorney for the state argued that the appeal would give the DOH sufficient time to facilitate the lawful growth and distribution of whole-plant, smokable weed.
"Nobody at this time can go to a medical marijuana treatment center and obtain smokable marijuana... There is no lawful medical marijuana that can be smoked,'' said Karen Brodeen, senior assistant Attorney General who argued for the state.
At least one state-licensed pot seller has already said that she is indeed prepared to start offering dispensaries smokable indicas and sativas. "[We are] ready to provide Florida patients flower and the medical benefits of the entourage effect that full-flower cannabis provides," Kim Rivers, CEO of medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve told the Associated Press after Judge Gievers' original ruling. "We look forward to guidance from the Department of Health on next steps to approve this next form of medicine for patients."
Now, thanks to Judge Grievers' proactive appeal ruling, Rivers and the rest of Florida's medical marijuana providers will be able to make shelf space for flower sooner rather than later.
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