No surprise: A Tallahassee judge has decided her ruling to allow patients to smoke medical marijuana in Florida should be effective sooner rather than later.
In a Tuesday order, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers said her decision will now take effect Monday, according to plaintiffs’ counsel Jon Mills.
His clients include Cathy Jordan, a woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease who had testified she wouldn’t be alive but for smoking marijuana.
“The judge perceived the urgency here,” Mills said in a phone interview. “There will be people who need to obtain relief, and they either can’t do it or risk committing a crime.”
The state had appealed the decision, which places an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ latest order lifts that stay.
The state’s attorneys are expected to next ask the 1st District Court of Appeal to reinstate the stay, as they did in the case of Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner, whom Gievers allowed to grow his own marijuana for juicing.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health said the agency is reviewing the ruling and “working every day to implement the law.” The agency said medical marijuana is still available to patients.
“Our focus remains with ensuring that patients have access to medical marijuana, and the Florida Department of Health has made significant progress in making this treatment available,” interim communications director Devin Galetta said.
“In fact, there are more than 117,00 patients who have access to medical marijuana and over 1,300 doctors are licensed to order this treatment. There are dispensaries located across the state and patients have access to home delivery.”
The latest move doesn’t mean Jordan and others will be able to buy marijuana for smoking anytime soon, however.
As Assistant Attorney General Karen Brodeen said at a Monday hearing, there is no way now to get medical marijuana for smoking, and even if legal it would have to subject to rulemaking, “which could take several months.”
In other words, smokable medical marijuana still won’t be available as of Monday.
The legal challenge over smoking was organized by Orlando attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the 2016 state constitutional amendment allowing medicinal cannabis.
On Tuesday, he again tweeted to Gov. Rick Scott to drop the appeal: “# please follow the law & the will of 72% of the people. Everyday you waste taxpayers’ money w/ this frivolous appeal sick people, veterans, cops, firefighters & cancer patients suffer! Where is your compassion man?”
He ended the tweet with a quote from Tuesday’s order: “There is no likelihood of success by the (state on appeal).”
Updated 10 p.m. — Morgan sent the following statement to Florida Politics:
“The judge said the choice between breathing and committing a crime was not fair. Rick Scott is wasting taxpayers’ money on this frivolous appeal while veterans, cops, firefighters (with PTSD) and really sick people suffer. This callous meanness has no room in Florida. This act of cruelty will cost him the Senate seat. Medical (marijuana) got 500,000 more votes than he did.”
Florida Politics’ Danny McAuliffe contributed reporting.