Both sides request delay in legal challenge to Florida ban on smoking medical marijuana


Both sides in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s prohibition on smoking medical marijuana have asked an appeals court for a second time to delay the case.

The 1st District Court of Appeal last week refused to put the case on hold indefinitely but allowed the parties to seek a stay specifying the amount of time needed to resolve the dispute.

On Thursday, lawyers representing the state and plaintiffs in the lawsuit asked the court to postpone the case “through and including March 15.”

The case is centered on whether a 2017 law that banned patients from smoking medical marijuana ran afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized the cannabis treatment for Floridians with debilitating medical conditions. After a Leon County circuit judge sided with the plaintiffs, the state —- under former Gov. Rick Scott —- appealed the ruling.

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wanted the Legislature to do away with the ban, and he gave lawmakers until mid-March to address the issue. In the joint motion Thursday, lawyers representing both sides wrote that they “are discussing the possibility of resolving this matter and believe there is a reasonable prospect that their discussions will result in a resolution.”

The parties “believe that a stay until March 15, 2019, will provide sufficient time for them to conclude their discussions,” the lawyers wrote. March 15, however, gives the Legislature a tight window of time —- 10 days after the start of the 2019 session —- to repeal or modify the law.

Last week, DeSantis accused lawmakers of failing to properly carry out the amendment, approved by 71 percent of voters in 2016, and threatened to drop the state’s appeal if legislators don’t act.

“I want to have the elected representatives write the law in the way that the people intended. We’ll give them a couple weeks in session to address the smoking issue. And if they don’t do it, we’re going to dismiss the case. We’re going to move on,” the governor said at the time.

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