As you’re likely aware by now, the use of medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since 2016, when voters passed the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative – otherwise known as Amendment 2.
In its initial form (i.e. the one that Florida residents voted on), there was no specific language in the Amendment that said anything about the banning of “smokable” marijuana, aside from the fact that smoking cannabis would not be allowed in public places.
As such, when the Amendment passed by an unprecedented 71% back in 2016, most Floridians assumed they would be able to obtain traditional medical cannabis flower and smoke it in the form of joints, pipes, etc.
However, upon implementation of the Amendment in 2017, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) took it upon themselves to ban all smokable forms of cannabis, mandating instead that it be administered in the form of vape oils, edibles, and topical creams.
| As you can imagine, Florida residents were both shocked and angry; the DOH essentially added supplemental language to the constitutional Amendment, after it had already been approved and passed by voters.
Fortunately, prominent Florida attorney John Morgan (who, coincidentally, was responsible for bankrolling the Medical Cannabis Initiative prior to 2016) spotted the misleading actions of the DOH, and actually filed a lawsuit against the State back in July 2017 on grounds that the their restrictions against smokable marijuana went against the original wording set forth in the constitution’s Amendment.
From Section C6 of Amendment 2: “This section makes clear that the Amendment does not require that the smoking of marijuana be allowed in public, unlike the proper use of medical marijuana in a private place which is not illegal.”
As you can see, there was absolutely nothing in the original language of the Amendment that implied that smoking cannabis would not be permitted. As such, considering the lawsuit against the Department of Health, the question still remains: ‘is smokable marijuana allowed in Florida for medical patients?’
Are Medical Patients Allowed to Smoke Marijuana in Florida?
Much to the delight of medical marijuana patients all over the state of Florida, Florida Circuit Judge Karen Gievers did indeed rule back in May 2018 that the Department of Health’s banning of smokable marijuana was at odds with the language set forth in Amendment 2, citing that the ban was “unconstitutionally inconsistent with voters’ intent.”
However, Florida governor Rick Scott appealed the ruling within 10 minutes of the judge’s decision, prompting the case to be taken to an appeals court in Tallahassee. The next hearing is set to take place on January 8, 2019.
Quite naturally, governor Scott’s rapid-fire appeal prompted a sharp response from Mr. Morgan, who took to Twitter to remind the Senator that “[You are] the Department of Health, this is [your] case … Don’t be like the others… grow some brass ones!”
Ultimately, the question of ‘are medical patients allowed to smoke marijuana in Florida’ is still unanswered, as state residents must await the decision of the appeals court on January 8.
Marijuana Flower is Sold in Florida Dispensaries… But You’re Not Allowed to Smoke it
Oddly enough, the current legislation has not stopped some licensed Florida dispensaries from selling marijuana flower, albeit in a ‘proprietary’ format that is unrecognizable to most.
Trulieve, for example, which is by and large the state’s largest medical marijuana supplier, offers a range of products called ‘TruFlower Cups.’
| These cups do in fact contain actual marijuana flower, but the kicker is that they cannot be smoked – they have to be used in a special desktop vaporizer.
Much like the proprietary single-serving Keurig coffee pods that only work with Keurig brand coffee makers, TruFlower Cups are only compatible with Trulieve’s TableTop Vaporizer – a $750 unit that, for most, is absurdly cost prohibitive.
But couldn’t patients just buy the TruFlower Cups, cut them open, and smoke the marijuana flower in a joint or pipe? Hypothetically, yes — and many patients probably have already done so (or tried to). But in doing this, they would technically be breaking the law. As one astute Reddit user points out, “the products are meant to be tamper proof, but what you do at home is your own business.”
All in all, the current laws on smoking medical marijuana in Florida are pretty absurd, and we can only hope that the appeals decision on January 8 goes in favor of the thousands of patients who simply want to treat their conditions in the most effective way possible.
As one patient who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) accurately points out, “I think that [the decision to ban smoking] is so wrong — so wrong. If we voted for it, give it to us.”
Final Thoughts: Is it Legal to Smoke Weed in Florida?
As of late 2018, it remains illegal for medical marijuana patients in Florida to consume their medicine by way of smoking. By law, they must either use vaporizable oils, oral tinctures, or infused topical lotions. Depending on the court of appeals decision in January, this could be set to change, however.
One of the key arguments for the ban on smoking marijuana in Florida is the potential health risks that are involved with combustion, as well as the difficulty for doctors to prescribe a reliable dose via smoke inhalation.
As Florida-based doctor Kevin Samet points out, “smoke is not a reliable delivery system. It’s impossible to measure dosage, and it contains hundreds of other chemical compounds that may do more harm than good.”
On the contrary, Dr. Joseph Rosado argues that there is no research supporting claims that cannabis smoke is as dangerous as tobacco. “I don’t believe that there is harm in smoking cannabis,” he says. “Do I think [it is as harmful as smoking tobacco]? No, I don’t believe so.”
Moreover, plaintiffs that have testified during the ongoing lawsuit against the Department of Health argue that smoking is the only method of consumption that offers them any form of adequate relief.
Cathy Jordan, for example, a Florida MMJ patient who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, has testified that smoking cannabis is the only thing that has kept her alive for decades after doctors told her she would die from the condition. According to a report published by the USA Today Network, she says that smoked marijuana can treat “a variety of life-threatening side effects of the disease, and that other forms of ingestion [simply] don’t have the same positive impact.”