Great news came from a Florida courtroom this weekend as smokeable forms of medical marijuana became legal for registered patients to possess and use. Prior to this ruling, Florida medical marijuana patients were limited to using alternative oils and forms of the drug that could not be smoked. (Dispensaries have mastered making the best vape cartidges I’ve ever tried) Raw marijuana was allowed, but only if it was being used with a vaporizing device. It appears that allowing raw marijuana but not allowing it to be smoked seemed ridiculous to a Judge who ended up ruling that the law was unconstitutional. The state argued in the case that smokable cannabis was not an effective treatment method for the list of qualified conditions. Judge Gievers said that wasn’t important, and that when the state gave patients constitutional protection from prosecution it shouldn’t have been restricted to different forms of the plant. Even though the original law was unconstitutional, court testimony from suffering patients would have convinced the judge to overthrow the rule anyway.
I knew that the no smoking rule wasn’t going to stick around long in Florida or anywhere else it’s enacted because there is no way to enforce it unless they caught someone in the act. Patients were allowed to have the raw form of the drug because vaporization was allowed. Nothing was stopping that patient from rolling the buds into a joint and smoking them. It’s the traditional way of using cannabis for a reason; it’s extremely effective. A lot of patients need immediate relief when they use their medicine, so they can’t wait around for an edible or pill to take effect. A lot of stoners would argue that the high you get from hitting a vaporizer is a different experience than smoking a joint or bong. There is a more clear-headed feeling to vaporization and some people need the knockout punch that will put them to sleep. On top of that vaporizers are very expensive and many people would prefer not to make that initial investment.
The medical marijuana law enacted in 2016 did not lay out possession limits and prohibited all home cultivation. The Florida Department of Health establishes the amount of cannabis a patient can consume on a daily basis and physicians are allowed to write certifications for three 70 day periods each consultation. There is definitely a ton of regulation and strict rules surrounding the new industry. I believe much of this will disappear like the ban on smoking and patients will be given more rights such as growing their own medicine and not having to visit the physician on numerous occasions each year. I would also predict that the amount of qualifying conditions will expand outside the serious debilitating diseases currently on the list. Many more people can benefit medically from the plant even if their ailments are not life-threatening. However, even with the law as it stands, Florida is definitely leading the way when it comes to the southern United States. Medical marijuana laws are either non-existent or not yet operational/highly restrictive down south. Georgia and Alabama, for example, have no medical marijuana laws available outside of CBD-only forms of the drug. Catching a marijuana possession charge in either of these states means up to a year in jail and possible license suspension. I hope to see Florida continue to lay the foundation for these states and progress to a more sensible system of medical marijuana like Michigan has. The number of patients will likely increase with the news of the judges ruling as will the number of options available at dispensaries.
This past week I was lucky enough to escape the never-ending 6 month winter here in Michigan and visit one of my favorite destinations, the sunshine state. From my past travels I came to the conclusion that a vacation isn’t really the complete package until you’re able to experience some of the best local flavors. I knew that the possibility of smoking without any existing connections in the area could be a challenge, and decided to bring some great lakes ganja along for the journey. Even though I’m a daily smoker, I did not bring enough to meet my usual consumption. It was just one of the strategies to help me stay under the radar. Being conservative with my medicine was not really a problem because almost immediately my tolerance had drastically dropped. There was a constant temptation to burn the stash quickly because of perfect weather and a community with a very relaxing environment.
It didn’t take me long to cross paths with another smoker who was also a medical marijuana patient in Florida’s program. While out shooting hoops and hitting my vape pen, another basketball player joined the court and started shooting around with me. He acknowledged the vape cartridge, and to my surprise also told me he had even brought his own along. After hitting the “sherbert” flavored cartridge, I was in shock. Never had I hit something so tasty that still packed a strong punch when it came to potency. It was better than any of the countless brands I have tried from the dispensaries here. The medial marijuana producers in the state have really done well with what they are working with. Being limited to strictly producing non smokable forms of the plant allowed them to master the process of producing high quality medicine in vapor form. At that point I felt comfortable asking for some direction on where to find some dank buds. To my surprise the first person I met there was down to help me out. I felt pretty lucky considering how sketchy it can be for dealers to deal outside their main circle.
When it came to the buds themselves, I was able to secure a batch of some mango kush. The bag appeal was not too bad although noticeably different from what I’m use to seeing in Michigan. While the buds were covered in orange hairs and pretty dense, they lacked that light green color and were not coated in trichomes. I was not about to complain though as my new friend had gone out of his ways and it looked decent. The flavor was surprisingly fruity and it burned really well. It didn’t pack as strong of a punch as the joints I had brought along, but it definitely was a nice relief to my diminishing supply. The price was higher then what I would pay at home, but I’m sure if I sticked around for a while and made some connections, I could secure comparable pricing. The same goes for the quality of the bud. I know people have top shelf medicine down south, it’s just not as prevalent and accessible.
From my short time there I met several consumers, and even caught some wiffs of dank while walking around the neighborhood. Just as many people seem to smoke, but in a more discreet manner. With not many people enrolled in the medical marijuana program, and those enrolled not allowed to have buds, there is a greater threat of police enforcement. While I was able to find a connection relatively easy, I think it came down to getting really lucky. With some of the country’s nicest beaches and weather its a trade-off when it comes to the state’s accessibility to weed. If you plan on visiting, I would suggest bringing some of your locally grown weed along for the ride and not to plan on having a lucky encounter such as mine. I would also definitely recommend trying the vape cartridges produced there if given the chance, I guarantee they will not disappoint.