In the ongoing battle between Gov. Rick Scott and the state of Florida vs. attorney John Morgan and medical marijuana activists, the former has received its second striking blow in a row. Judge Karen Gievers lifted the automatic stay placed on her ruling that Florida medical marijuana patients should have access to smokable cannabis. Her ruling called the current restrictions imposed by Florida legislation as “unconstitutional,” a ruling the state immediately appealed, imposing the aforementioned stay.
Morgan and two patients with terminal illnesses filed an appeal to that stay. Gievers ruled that the state’s tactic to further delay her May 25 ruling would cause irreparable harm to patients. She gave the state until June 11 to put into action a process for patients to be prescribed smokable marijuana.
When the state legislature created Florida’s medical marijuana program, they included a provision that would ban smokable cannabis, citing health risks. Morgan filed a lawsuit, along with Cathy Jordan and Diana Dodson, who claimed that smoking cannabis has prolonged their lives.
In Gievers’ four-page ruling she specifically acknowledged the potential harm the patients would experience should the stay be extended. Jordan has lived with ALS since 1986 while Dodson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991.
“First, they cannot legally access the treatment recommended for them,” Gievers wrote in the four-page ruling. “Second, they face potential criminal prosecution for possession and use of the medicinal substance.”
Morgan has been his usually apoplectic self when discussing the state’s medical marijuana laws, calling out Gov. Scott directly with the hashtag #SlickRick. “Where is your compassion man?” Morgan asked. The powerful Florida attorney also challenged Scott to debate discussing the merits of their claims.
#SlickRick 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?
“There is no likelihood of success by the defendants" https://t.co/FWUUoo45Q1
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) June 5, 2018
Gary, here's my offer to Florida. I would like to debate @FLGovScott on this issue so all of Florida can see his position and see the position of those who need it.
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) June 6, 2018
Though that doesn’t answer the more pertinent question lingering—how will the Florida Department of Health, tasked with regulating medical marijuana in the state, respond to Gievers’ ruling? The DOH wouldn’t answer any questions about possible changes it will make in the next week, though it did announce it was reviewing the ruling. In a statement to the Miami Herald, the DOH defended the framework of the current law.
Related Story: Florida Bank Shuts Down Accounts For Cannabis Businesses
“The use of medical marijuana is outlined in state law, which was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the Florida legislature,” DOH spoksperson Devin Galetta told the Miami Herald. “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. In fact, there are more than 117,000 patients who have access to medical marijuana and over 1,300 doctors are licensed to order this treatment.”