Court Lifts Smoking Ban on Medical Marijuana

Like The Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” At least, not all at once, which seems to be the lesson for medical marijuana advocates here in Florida, who from the very start have had one recurring problem with the law as currently written: It does not cover the plant in its smokable form. That may have changed forever, though, on Friday, May 25, when Judge Karen Gievers concurred with appellants contending that the ban on smoking pot was inconsistent with the spirit of Amendment 2, as voters understood it when they overwhelmingly passed it in November 2016.

“Having considered the relevant testimony and other evidence,” Judge Gievers writes, “the court finds that the statute is invalid because it conflicts with the Florida Constitution and prohibits a use of medical marijuana that is permitted by the amendment: smoking in private.” She goes on to quote noted hemp enthusiast and our nation’s first president George Washington, who said in 1796, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government.”

The state will appeal this ruling, because of course it will—this was Florida’s idea in the first place. And it makes perfect sense, from a certain perspective. Restricting the forms in which patients are allowed to consume cannabis allows the state to control the commerce associated with it, whether that means the zoning of storefronts or the licensing of vendors. The prohibition against smoking cannabis is a bulwark against the black market where most of the plants are currently distributed. Income from such sales goes undetected, so it can’t be taxed at the source, though there are sales and corporate taxes on the consumer goods purchased with all that filthy lucre. Removing the ban on smoking cannabis dovetails nicely with another ruling that may allow citizens to grow their own plants, which means that businesses will be doing the same soon enough.

Assuming that Judge Gievers’ ruling stands (which is hardly guaranteed, even considering that a certain Florida governor has so far failed to remake the state supreme court in his image), the door is now open not only for greater freedom, but for vastly enhanced profits across the board. Having seen the numbers coming in from around the country, and what’s been projected for marijuana’s impact on the Florida economy in the near future, it seems that Victor Hugo’s classic adage is true: “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”