Despite the rumor that Florida’s new governor (Ron De Santis) will be friendlier to medical marijuana than Rick Scott, oral arguments were held earlier this week and the attorneys representing the State of Florida vigorously argued to uphold the current smoking ban. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers had previously agreed with the plaintiffs and struck down the smoking ban, but her decision had been stayed after the State of Florida appealed.
During oral argument, the appellate panel of judges raised the question of whether the Florida legislature has the political power to veto what the people have passed.
The Florida Department of Health attorneys argued that the immunity set forth in Florida’s Amendment Two was for medical use only. Since smoking causes cardiovascular and respiratory health problems, the Florida legislature was well within its rights to limit delivery methods that would negatively impact health.
Regarding the section set forth in Amendment Two which provides for restriction on where medical marijuana patients can smoke marijuana, which restricts smoking in public, the DOH attorneys argued that section did not create a conflict because the section was set forth in the limitation section.
Attorneys for People United for Medical Marijuana (“People United”) and Catherine Jordan argued that since the definition of medical marijuana included smokable medical marijuana, the legislature could not restrict that method of delivery in its regulation without creating a constitutional conflict.
Additionally, attorneys for People United argued that the language permitting the Florida legislature to regulate for safety meant that issues like pesticides and the like could be regulated, but that safety regulations could not conflict with the constitutional amendment language which did not restrict delivery methods.
Counsel for People United made an emotional argument regarding patient Cathy Jordan who has suffered from ALS since 1986 and was given 3-5 years to live back in 1986. Ms. Jordan claims that smoking medical marijuana has kept her alive.
Cathy Jordan is not trying to have a good time, she is trying to live.
A video of the oral arguments can be viewed here.
Dori K. Stibolt is a West Palm Beach, Florida based partner with Fox Rothschild LLP. She focuses her practice on litigation and labor and employment issues and has taken a special interest in the cannabis business. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.