EXCLUSIVE: Florida Families Sue to Force State to Comply with Medical Marijuana Laws

By November 23, 2017Newsroom

This interview was hosted at Green Roads World headquarters.

Tallahassee, FL – Suffering families filed suit today in an effort to force the State of Florida to follow its own Medical Marijuana laws.

Steve Garrison, Sr. lost his son Matthew in January 2017.  Matthew was a disabled Iraqi war combat veteran who did not have access to legal medical marijuana.  As proprietor of Bill’s Nursery, Garrison and his surviving sons Rusty and Donovan were inspired by medical marijuana’s ability to treat brain injuries like those suffered by their brother, and are considering applying for a Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Center license.

Matthew Garrison

Matthew Garrison was a decorated Army combat veteran.

“It’s personal for us – it hits home,” said Donovan Garrison. “We cared about this issue before, but after Matthew’s death, it’s so gut-wrenching because we want to help but are being held back.”

“Bill’s Nursery already lost one brother to this and we are fighting to make sure that no one else does,” added Rusty Garrison.

The second plaintiff in the suit is Michael Bowen, the epileptic who had a gran mal seizure on the Senate floor last April.  Diagnosed at age 13, traditional pharmaceuticals are no longer able to treat Michael’s seizures – resulting in multiple seizures a day.

Florida Families Sue to Force State to Comply with Medical Marijuana Laws

Michael Bowen, showing the aftereffects of his seizures.

“Every seizure I get causes brain damage and carries the additional threat of instant death through stroke or cardiac arrest.  In cases like mine, medical marijuana is literally the only thing that can control my seizures and keep me alive” said Bowen, “But the Florida Department of Health’s inexcusable foot-dragging is keeping patients like me from getting safe, reliable access to these lifesaving treatments.”

More than a year after 71.3% of Florida voters approved Medical Marijuana, the State Department of Health has failed to meet the clear requirements of the Constitutional Amendment.  As a result, millions of Floridians suffering from debilitating medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis have not been able to get the medicine they need and to which they are Constitutionally entitled.

Bowen has joined the Garrisons in a suit to force the State of Florida to issue all the MMTC licenses required by law.

The number of MMTCs currently operating in Florida has proven to be inadequate for a state so large in both population and geography. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that different marijuana strains have varying effectiveness when treating different medical conditions, and the small number of MMTCs further limits the quantity and types of strains available to patients. Florida law required the DOH to issue ten additional licenses by October 3, 2017; yet the Department has failed to do so – an issue which patients say limits their access to lifesaving medicine.

While patients suffer, DOH Medical Marijuana Use Director Christian Bax has resorted to blaming the missed deadline on pending litigation.[1] Though, as Senate Health Committee Chair Dana Young rightfully pointed out to Christian Bax, DOH’s Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, the State  “get(s) sued all the time…You have a duty under our state laws to issue those licenses regardless of whether some plaintiff files a lawsuit.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Velvel Freedman and Kristina Infante of the Boies Schiller Flexner law firm in Miami. The complaint, which can be viewed here, demands the release of the remaining MMTC licenses.

For more information:
Stephani Scruggs
(850) 530-1874

[1] See, testimony of Christian Bax at the Florida Senate Health Committee on October 24, 2017.

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