M.D.M.J.

Smothering the Law

Appellate court douses smokable medical marijuana

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No matter who you are or what you're doing, where you’re doing it or why, we’ve all had some well-meaning killjoy douse our dreams in cold water, usually by saying something trite and quasi-folksy, like, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” Some poor bastard poultry peddler way back in the neoprene era apparently did count his fowl, speculating prematurely on what he’d be bringing to market, and the results were disastrous; he lost his farm, his wife left him for a vegan, and he ended it all by taking an overdose of millet. So he’s now the poster-child for Irrational Exuberance.

Yeah, we front-loaded the column with bad jokes, because the innards aren’t funny at all. Well, it might be funny if you’re Rick Scott, whose efforts to stall the proper implementation of Amendment 2 got a serious boost on July 10, when a three-judge panel from the First District Court of Appeal chose to overturn a ruling by Circuit Judge Karen Gievers of Leon County that would’ve allowed patients to smoke their medicine, which she said was consistent with the spirit of the law. Neither “spirit” nor “the law” are words that anyone usually associates with our esteemed governor, who’d already committed state resources to resisting the ruling long before the appellate court made its decision.

Cannabis connoisseurs from Palm Beach to Pensacola have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out what the governor finds so insufferable about insufflation, but the reality is, he’s actively stonewalled the medical marijuana movement from the start. This situation is wholly consistent with the state’s slow processing of patient applications, the prohibitive fees required to be a licensed grower and countless other, smaller ways in which the bureaucratic process has been used as a weapon against the voters themselves. It’s almost amusing, sometimes. But not now.

John Morgan brought the case on behalf of two patients, one with HIV and the other with ALS, who both credit cannabis with extending their lives after being given virtual death sentences by their doctors. It’s widely known that the form in which the stuff is consumed greatly affects the effect it has, and both patients claim that smoking it alleviates their symptoms in ways currently legal forms do not.

These are real people–citizens, taxpayers, voters–and they are dying. These three judges, in deference to the governor, have officially ruled that their lives are expendable, and that their daily suffering is an acceptable consequence of political expediency. It’s wrong–legally, ethically and morally–and one hopes that the state Supreme Court does the right thing when the case comes before it later this year. One also hopes that ruling comes in time to save these ladies’ lives, but as the saying goes, let’s not count our chickens until they’re hatched.

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