Medical Marijuana Firing Goes to Florida Supreme Court

Medical Marijuana Firing Goes to Florida Supreme Court

By The News Service of Florida

A former Florida Department of Corrections officer has gone to the state Supreme Court in a dispute about his firing for using medical marijuana. An attorney for former officer Samuel Velez Ortiz filed a notice last week that is a first step in challenging a June 21 decision by a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal that upheld the firing.

Velez Ortiz, who was approved by a doctor to use medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder related to previous military service, failed a random drug test in 2021, ultimately leading to his firing under the department’s “zero tolerance” policy.

He challenged the firing and took the dispute to the 1st District Court of Appeal after the state Public Employees Relations Commission backed the dismissal. The three-judge panel of the appeals court pointed to marijuana being illegal under federal law and said Velez Ortiz would be committing a felony by using marijuana and possessing a gun. It said correctional officers, in part, are required to qualify with firearms and be able to be issued guns in situations such as prison riots.

“Because Mr. Velez Ortiz uses medicinal marijuana to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder, he is a regular user of marijuana,” said the ruling, written by Judge Clay Roberts and joined by Judges Stephanie Ray and M. Kemmerly Thomas. “Although he can legally possess and use medicinal marijuana under state law, his use of it is illegal under federal law. Accordingly, he cannot lawfully possess a firearm. Each time he does, he is committing a felony. And each year, he is required to possess a firearm to qualify. As a result, he is violating his requirement to maintain good moral character, which is required to keep his correctional officer certification.”

An order issued Monday said proceedings at the Supreme Court will be on hold until the 1st District Court of Appeal rules on a motion by Velez Ortiz for a rehearing.

21 Responses to "Medical Marijuana Firing Goes to Florida Supreme Court"

  1. Considering most narcotic medication is a scheduled drug and illegal to posses without a script, there’s no reason that cannabis should be any different. In fact it should treated the same as receiving OxyContin or codeine or morphine…if scripted, the script trumps the legality as it’s used medically. It’s amazing that the government has made such a distinction between cannabis and other medically prescribed controlled substances. You can’t legally have any of that without a script. Hence the term “controlled.” So why is cannabis being singled out? They are making a completely logical issue become illogical by discriminating against cannabis as a medication.

  2. I’m ordering a nice 36″x18″ advertising for my car’s back window. It says:

    Leon County Administrator
    Vince Long
    Annual Salary $351,000
    5th highest in USA
    Call your Commissioner to object

    I may just park it for a day in front of his office!

  3. @ Lucinda Martinez = You need to start going to High School Parties where the Parents are gone for the Weekend and just watch the kids. They DO pass out from Pot after awhile. They are fun to watch too. My brother used to drag me to those things and because of that, I do not Drink or do Drugs, mainly because I saw how stupid they got and all the stupid things they did. So for THAT, I thank my Brother.

  4. Nobody should be Discriminated for Using Marijuana. The Feds. And everyone else who thinks Marijuana will make someone not think or do the job is incorrect. Marijuana will not make a person act stupid or Sway or pass out because they have had to much. Alcohol is that. People can even Drive and not have a crash. Now if alcohol is mixed Yes.

  5. So, we have big pharma and NEVER hear about anyone using their drugs as a problem¿! You can get a license to sell drugs as a medical doctor, but if you’re on the street doing the same thing, and you get caught your entire life gets ruined! It’s all about making money off the backs of the poor. We live in a very hypocritical time that money equals justice. We need this hypocrisy to end in every form! Big pharma can push a bio weapon and get away with it with ZERO liability, so disgusting!

  6. This is a parody and total hypocrisy by politicians, regulators and administrators who consume alcohol on a regular basis. Alcohol kill and destroys lives daily however people drive , hold office own guns and make poor decisions under the influence of alcohol . Alcohol was prohibited at one point but now is huge business . Even our retired elders and people that are denied access to medications to manage daily chronic excruciating pain self medicate with alcohol which is a strong analgesic to make life bearable. Btw cbd has only small traces of Thc but overtime will accumulate on your fatty tissue and lead to positive drug test. Let people to do whatever they want to do with their bodies and stop the big feds from regulating every step of our lives,

  7. @ imrefreshed & Nicholas Weed

    I did some digging into the salary of Florida County Administrators in counties of similar population to Leon. What I found is that Vince Long is being paid a very disproportionate salary compared to other administrators in the state with similar county populations.

    Here’s what I found:
    Vincent Long for Leon County is paid $531,000 for a population of 297,000 residents
    Alachua County pays $224,000 for 284,000
    St. Johns County pays $227,000 for 307,000
    Escambia County pays $196,000 for 325,000
    St. Lucie County pays $214,000 for 359,000
    Marion County pays $230,000 for 396,000

    Even larger Sarasota County only pays $234,000 for administering to 462,00 residents.

    Why do we pay our County Administrator almost 3 times as much as other comparable size counties in Florida do?

    I think the government in Leon County and the City are very delusional and think they’re running some big-city community that’s very demanding and difficult to administer. The taxpayers of Leon County are being taken for idiots.

  8. Every mind matters,this is wrong that government giving license to drug dealer to destroy our young people lives and families live, these people who are operating these so call medical marijuana places are not following states guidelines ,no regulations ,also it’s very dangerous what they’re lacing the marijuana with other dangerous drugs making Young people to become addicted and having mental health problem.

  9. What many do not know, but I do, is this: even if you buy legal CBD tincture or CBD gummies, you can FAIL a THC urine test.

    I know it first happened to me in 2016, before FL had a medical MJ program. On my first new patient visit to a rheumatologist for chronic pain, I was given a “wiz quiz” and failed with high THC levels. They even sent it to a lab for gas spec confirmation.

    I was able to prove to them that I had purchased CBD tincture online, ALLEGEDLY THC FREE, from HempLifeToday, but it didnt matter.

    I ended up with a scarlet “M” on my back with the SIMED Pain clinic, who would only give me Tramadol for pain, due to DEA guidelines. Which in retrospect, may have been a blessing, but at the time was very stressful.

    Ironic too, as I was opposed to pot smoking and MJ in any form, having given it up myself in 1982.

    I was a licensed realtor, so it could’ve become an employment

    So, there is even more facets to this issue than just this case. Yes, what an outrage that you can be deprived of your 2nd Amendment rights if you use cannabis.

    Our FL Attorney General tried to fix this and failed. “Dino judges” look to federal law suddenly to settle a state issue? Why? This is Florida, where we now have legal medical marijuana.

    But, not really legal if you are a DOC or LEO or DOT worker. In fact, many private employers test for THC.

    What we need is a new FL law that restricts state agencies pain clinics and employers from testing for THC. PROBLEM SOLVED.

    Otherwise, innocent people can be harmed, robbed of needed pain medication therapy, employment, even their liberty, all for using CBD gummies?

    I say this last part, as I tried “THC-free” CBD gummies again. After two months of only gummies, I failed a 15 strip home urine test for THC. Even these “Moon Beam” brand CBD gummies were contaminated.

    I renewed my state license to protect myself at the pain clinic, but as I get jittery from THC, I have no orders on my card. Just the license itself.

    Something needs to change. Consumers have no way to test CBD gummies or tinctures for THC. I can assure you many products are contaminated with THC, as this is due to cheaper extraction methods. Buyer beware.

  10. So it’s okay for the Federal Government and its corporate lackeys to poison us with fake Covid vaccines full of graphene oxide but we are not allowed to use a natural medicine. I can’t count how many people I know who have died from vaccines, opioids, antidepressants etc. but all that is completely legal. What a joke. Marijuana is a plant that helps people. Period. Big Pharma just wants a monopoly for their snake oil poison. By the way. If you have a Covid vaccine you likely only have 3-10 years left to live..

  11. iamrefreshed

    I agree that the county administrator’s salary is too high. It does not match up to a pay scale for this size county. This is part of the corruption in Leon County and Tallahassee. The over-inflated salaries should be redistributed throughout the rank and file.

    You think that someone being paid this amount of salary they could administer a decent level of service with Waste Pro.

    But, we as taxpayers have to pay for those Chamber Buffalo Pool parties and kickbacks to special interests.

  12. I like smoking reefer… illegally!
    If you want to be a corrections officer you can’t smoke reefer, it’s that simple. I don’t want it legalized, if you need it to be legal before you smoke it, you probably shouldn’t be smoking anything.
    Doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing is a big part of the high, now I’ll have to do something else to feel like an outlaw… Maybe I’ll go fishin’ without a license 🙂

  13. @ The Spider = There are a lot of “MEDICINES” out there that, if you are taking, you also shouldn’t be around Guns. Every Anti-Depressant Medication comes to mind.

  14. That makes complete and total sense. In no way whatsoever. its why my Confederate ancestors fought the Civil War. Violation of state’s rights over federal rights. Their war on marijuana has been an abysmal failure. It’s MEDICINE. It’s TIME to treat it as such.

  15. Medical marijuana permits are largely a scam. The “patient” pays for the doctor visit, pays the State $250.00 every six months for a permit and gets enough low cost weed to sell some on the street. And my guess is government knows this but, just like food stamp/EBT card abuse, isn’t going to do anything.

  16. I have a license for medical Marijuana and just like alcohol would not want a gun in hand under either condition. Very foolish .Shoot yourself in the foot stupid .

  17. I was disgusted recently to learn the salary being paid to Vincent Long. It is among the highest in the country for county administrators, $351,000 annually. He is fifth highest paid in the country according to

    Tallahassee. Fifth. Highest. Paid. In the country!!

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