No smoke for medical marijuana users until appeal plays out

By John Breslin | Jul 12, 2018

TALLAHASSEE–Medical marijuana users still cannot smoke the plant after First District Court of Appeals reinstated a stay until the appeal process plays out.

The Florida Department of Health has consistently opposed attempts by the People United for Medical Marijuana to reverse the agency's ban on the smoking of marijuana for medical use. The group, which helped pass a ballot initiative allowing medical marijuana in Florida, says the state is violating the 2016 amendment.

Earlier this year, Leon County Circuit Court ruled that the medical marijuana amendment "implied" a right to smoke the plant in a private place. When the Department of Health appealed, an automatic stay was placed on the judgment, pending appeal. However, the circuit court vacated the stay when the People United for Medical Marijuana protested.

The circuit court reasoned that "the state had no likelihood of success on the merits on appeal and that the individual appellees were exposed to irreparable harm [because] they cannot legally access the treatment recommended for them."

On July 3, the First District Court of Appeal rejected the argument that the state had little chance of success in its argument against the use of smokable marijuana.

Further, the court stated, "Appellees have failed to demonstrate that they will suffer irreparable harm if the automatic stay is reinstated. On the contrary, reinstating the automatic stay will maintain the status quo pending appeal."

"It was an abuse of discretion for the circuit court to vacate the automatic stay," the court continued in its written order.

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