Smoking medical marijuana has been legalized in Florida.Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law on Monday, abolishing the ban on smokable medical cannabis by the state. Patients carrying cards can receive 2.5 ounces of pot every 35 days under the new law. Furthermore, patients under 18 are allowed to smoke if they are terminally ill and if it is recommended by at least two doctors – one being a pediatrician.
DeSantis noted that in a constitutional amendment in 2016, more than 70% of voters approved medical marijuana. In 2017, however, then-Governor Rick Scott signed a law banning all forms of smoking pot. DeSantis gave lawmakers a deadline of March 15 after taking office in January to act to abolish the ban. Otherwise, WBBH reported that he vowed to pull the Sunshine State out of a lawsuit lifting Scott’s ban. The bill was passed by a 34-4 vote in the Florida Senate on March 7 and a 101-11 vote in the House on March 13.
I thank my Legislature colleagues for working with me to ensure that our voters ‘ will is upheld, ‘ said DeSantis in Monday’s statement. ‘ Now that we have fulfilled our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and tabled a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court ruling that held the law to be unconstitutional. ‘ John Morgan, an attorney in Orlando who led the lawsuit, praised DeSantis and the Legislature in a series of tweets.’My job is done. The will of the people has been heard! Really sick and injured people now have a path to safe wellness. Now on to slay other dragons! #ForThePeople,’ Morgan wrote in one tweet.
According to the new law, medical marijuana can’t be smoked or at private businesses subject to the state’s cigarette smoking ban.Private property owners are entitled to ban it and patients are unable to own more than four ounces of smokable marijuana. Although the new law comes into force immediately, according to US News and World Report, the Florida Health Department will have to release guidelines for doctors and approve dispensaries to sell pot in smokable forms.
The repeal of the smoking ban had broad bipartisan support. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, called the new law a ‘landmark victory’ for medical marijuana patients and for democracy as a whole.The ban and other cannabis-related issues were cornerstones of her 2018 campaign.
‘It’s a triumph owed to the relentless advocacy of Floridians who refused to be silenced,’ Fried said in a statement. ‘Our state must not disregard the voice of its people – when the people’s will is nullified by those with authority, liberty cannot survive.’Meanwhile, Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes, who co-sponsored the new bill, says residents should expect to see a ballot measure in future elections to legalize recreational marijuana. ‘I think the likelihood that it passes is pretty good in 2022 or 2024, and we should prepare for its passage,’ he told CNN.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states and medical marijuana has been legalized by Washington, DC, and 34 states and DC. A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that 62% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, doubling the number in 2000 from two decades ago. Legalization opinions differ by political party, with it being supported by 69 percent of Democrats compared to 75 percent of Independents and only 45 percent of Republicans.