Florida Seeks to Uphold Ban on Smoking Medical Marijuana In Spite Of Court’s Decision on Constitutional Amendment
On August 3, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a 57-page brief arguing that the 1st District Court of Appeals should uphold a decision made by the state legislature in 2017 to ban smoking medical marijuana. Bondi and the state of Florida argue that it is within the legislature’s jurisdiction to regulate public health, safety, and welfare, and thus determine that harms caused by smoking medical marijuana serve as ample evidence to exclude smoking from the statutory definition of “medical use.”
The brief challenges a previous ruling made by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers that the smoking ban passed by the legislature violates a 2016 Florida constitutional amendment, which legalized the use of medical marijuana in private places. According to Judge Gievers, the constitutional amendment is consistent with public health concerns, as it recognizes the appropriateness of using smokable medical marijuana in private versus public areas. In addition, she ruled that the ability to smoke medical marijuana is a protected right because it was implied in the constitutional language.
Ruling Finds That Legislature Altered Implementation of Amendment Passed
Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson also previously ruled that limiting the number of medical marijuana treatment centers and requiring a very particular seed-to-sale system is a violation of the amendment approved by 71 percent of state voters. According to the Judge, voters who enabled the amendment to pass did not intend for it to establish a “vertically-integrated system,” nor did they vote for a cap on licenses. In other words, Florida courts have now taken issue with an aspect of the law’s implementation, which has effectively given priority to some growers (citrus processing facilities) over others. This “vertical integration system” comes about due to the legislature mandating that marijuana operators licensed by the state be able to cultivate, process, and dispense medical marijuana–all in one location/via one license–as opposed to breaking these activities up into separate parts for licensure.
In fact, not only does the amendment clearly fail to authorize any preferential treatment or particular system for those who cultivate and process medical marijuana in the state, but also it reportedly includes explicit language seeking to prevent an arbitrary restriction from being placed on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers authorized to conduct this business in Florida. The amendment accomplishes this by indicating that the availability and safe use of medical marijuana should be provided to qualifying patients.
Florida Criminal Defense & Drug Crime Attorneys
If you are an individual or Florida medical marijuana treatment center business owner, and have been charged with a Florida drug crime even though you were exercising your right to cultivate, process, dispense, and/or use medical marijuana, contact our Orlando drug crime and criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.