When I think about evacuating, cannabis is a big concern

From the desk of Cathy Jordan, FLCAN President. Click to visit home page.From the desk of Cathy Jordan, FLCAN President. Click to visit home page.

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My thoughts are with you..

When I think about evacuating, cannabis is a big concern.

Whether you are a qualified patient using cannabis from a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) or using cannabis from a trusted source, evacuating with cannabis is a traumatic choice.

Legal patients with medication from an MMTC are on my mind today. Several of the southern dispensaries have already closed for storm preparation. I’ve asked several law-makers what patients should do and have gotten no response so far.

Using cannabis in a shelter is a legally grey area. The Morgan Amendment specifically bans public consumption of cannabis. Shelters are by their very nature PUBLIC. Lawmakers have made an exception to the public consumption ban for school-aged children using low-THC. No one considered what happens if a patient needs to take shelter during a mandatory or voluntary evacuation. Senator Bradley was quoted last year saying he didn’t believe a patient would be arrested for using legal cannabis in an emergency.

Based on FLCAN’s experience, here is what we recommend:

If you are a legal patient:

Take your letter of recommendation from your doctor, and/or your Health Department card with you during the evacuation.
If you are evacuating out of state, unless the state where you stay has a reciprocal agreement in their medical marijuana law, you face the same penalties as any other cannabis user in that state. Your medical card will give you a defense.
Bring a three week supply of your medication in original containers, like any other medicine.
If you intend to use a vaporizer pen to administer your cannabis medication, identify yourself as a special needs patient when checking into a shelter.
If you are using other forms of cannabis from an MMTC there is no reason to identify yourself; if asked, don’t lie.

A legal patient who follows the above steps should have no problem safely using their recommended dose of cannabis during the evacuation. IF you or someone you love does have problems during the evacuation related to using lawfully recommended cannabis contact Florida CAN.

State medical cannabis programs are expanded through the courts. Whether you stay, leave or take an arrest, a patient who is denied the right to use cannabis when seeking shelter from a hurricane will have a day in court.

Here are some suggestions to aid in your defense or a legal challenge:

Decide if you are going to comply and stay in the shelter; leave the shelter with your medicine or face an arrest in advance. If you are considering an arrest, have an arrest plan.
Put things in writing. Start a detailed log or journal about the encounter – who, what, when, and where – while it is fresh in your mind.
Get names and contact information of witnesses.
Write down the time, date and name of each ‘official’ you encounter even if they are only an official volunteer.

We are actively seeking attorneys who will defend patients should their rights be denied.

Here at Florida Cannabis Action Network, we care about people who need to use cannabis, those who want to use cannabis, and those who are already using cannabis ahead of the law.

Lawmakers postponed the first week of committee hearings in Tallahassee, due to Hurricane Irma. We were prepared with a letter writing campaign for the Senate Health Committee on Opiates and planned to attend the hearing for updates from the Department of Health on the implementation of the new medical cannabis program.

We are asking for your help to fund our expenses in Tallahassee during the upcoming legislative session. It costs us over $20,000 annually to be your voice for cannabis consumers in Tallahassee. Businesses care about the bottom line; FLCAN cares about you.

Find shelter from the storm; believe in our power to overcome; and when we come out the other side, give generously to Florida CAN. We never want another person punished for their use of cannabis.

Be safe,

Jodi James,
Executive Director

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