REPUBLICAN GOV. RON DeSantis signed a bill Monday that legalizes smokable medical marijuana in Florida, after pushing state lawmakers to pass the legislation by mid-March.
Though the Sunshine State legalized medical marijuana in 2016 through a ballot measure, lawmakers passed legislation in 2017 outlawing smokable forms of the substance. DeSantis and other officials allege that the ban contradicts voters’ wishes.
“I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of our voters is upheld,” DeSantis tweeted Monday, referring to the 70 percent of voters who approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016.
DeSantis also filed a motion for the the state appellate court to drop a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the 2017 ban now that it has been lifted. The governor reportedly warned lawmakers that he would drop the state’s appeal of the lawsuit if they didn’t pass legislation to repeal the ban by March 15, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
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“(The new law) means the will of the people has been heard,” Orlando attorney John Morgan, who financed most of the efforts to implement the ballot measure in 2016, told the Sentinel. “For the sick and injured (it means) an alternative to opioids and pharmaceutical poison.”
The law goes into effect immediately, but the state Department of Health still has to release guidelines for doctors and approve licensed dispensaries to sell their new smokable marijuana products.
Medical marijuana users are allowed to possess up to 4 ounces but still can’t smoke in public areas.
The bill also specifies that individuals under 18 can only smoke medical marijuana if they are terminally ill and have received a second opinion from another doctor.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried expressed her support for the new law.
“Patients should be able to access medicine in the form their doctor determines best for them,” Fried told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Whether it’s smoking medical marijuana or other delivery mechanisms, treatment decisions should be made by physicians, not politicians.”