FL: Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Over Smoking Can Proceed

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A lawsuit over whether patients can smoke medical marijuana moved forward Friday after a Tallahassee judge refused to grant the state’s request to dismiss the case.

Leon Circuit Judge Karen Gievers gave the go-ahead to the lawsuit, filed by a handful of Floridians who are eligible to use medical marijuana and a political organization that was behind a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized the treatment.

The plaintiffs are challenging a state law, passed during a special session last year that, among other things, bans patients from smoking marijuana.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the smoking ban violates the state Constitution, which they maintain allows patients to use smokable marijuana as a treatment if their doctors order it.

Lawyers representing the state, however, insist the amendment doesn’t expressly authorize smoking. And, they argue, the Legislature was within its authority to ban smoking because the amendment gives lawmakers the power to implement it.

After hearing arguments Thursday on a state motion to dismiss the case, Gievers agreed with the state that People United for Medical Marijuana, the political committee, lacked standing to sue. She gave the group 10 days to amend its filing.

But she denied the state’s motion to dismiss the claims of three individual plaintiffs, including Cathy Jordan, an outspoken proponent of medical marijuana who has had Lou Gehrig’s disease for more than three decades. All have debilitating medical conditions that make them eligible for the treatment.

Jordan, who uses a wheelchair and has difficulty speaking because of her illness, is among a small number of patients who were authorized to smoke marijuana as a medical treatment long before the Florida amendment passed in 2016.

She and her husband, Bob, spent more than five years fruitlessly trying to convince lawmakers to legalize smokable medical marijuana for other sick patients.

“I’m delighted we can move forward,’’ said Jon Mills, a former House speaker who represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.