A Tallahassee judge has ruled to throw out a People United for Medical Marijuana suit over smokable medical marijuana -- for now -- but said three Floridians had the standing to sue and left the door open for an amended lawsuit in the future, according to court documents released on Friday.
In a two-part ruling, Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers granted the state’s motion to dismiss the claims of People United for Medical Marijuana (PUMM), which argued the state’s 2016 constitutional amendment expanding the use of medical pot includes the smoking of the drug.
“The pending amended complaint lacks sufficient allegations relative to the association’s standing,” Gievers wrote, adding the ruling was conditional based on PUMM submitting an amended pleading.
State attorneys as well as attorneys representing PUMM and patients who use medical marijuana made their initial arguments in the case Thursday morning.
Attorneys for PUMM and the plaintiffs argued Amendment 2 implicitly allows patients to smoke the drug since smoking is only explicitly banned in public.
“If you’re the Legislature, why would you pick out smoking and say no? Because [this amendment] allows it,” attorney for the plaintiffs Jon Mills said.
Plaintiffs also said they believed the Florida Legislature was acting erroneously and placing limitations on suffering Floridians looking for relief.
“The Legislature’s taking the place of the doctors, telling us what we can and cannot do,” said Bob Jordan, whose wife Cathy, a plaintiff, suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. “We voted for the constitutional amendment so we wouldn’t be prosecuted for smoking cannabis.”
State attorneys disagreed.
"The plain language of the medical-marijuana amendment authorizes the Legislature to enact laws consistent with the amendment,” said State Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby. “Here, the Legislature has enacted a law that embodies reasonable health and safety concerns in compliance with the amendment.”
Nordby said there was no “express requirement” that smoking medical marijuana should be allowed.
On Thursday, state attorneys also told Gievers to throw out the suit because they believed plaintiffs had no standing to sue since they are not “qualified patients” who have undergone the process to receive medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
Gievers’ Friday ruling denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case based on lack of standing, saying plaintiffs and their argument met the criteria to bring the case to court.
“The pending complaint contains sufficient allegations to meet the standing and active case or controversy criteria for the Court to have jurisdiction over this declaratory judgment action,” Gievers wrote in denying the state’s motion to dismiss.
Gievers said the plaintiffs could file an amended pleading for the case within 10 days if they wished. If PUMM does not submit an amended complaint, the case will be thrown out.
Florida voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to expand the use of medical marijuana in 2016, but while the amendment provided for wider use of medical pot, it did not allow for the smoking of the drug.
Under current law, Floridians can use edibles, vaping, oils and pill forms of medical cannabis.
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