Smoking medical marijuana is legalized in Florida two years after residents voted for it
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on Monday
- Under the new law, patients can receive 2.5 ounces of pot every 35 days
- Patients under 18 can smoke if they’re terminally ill and if at least two doctors – one being a pediatrician – recommend it
- In 2016, 70 percent of voters approved medical marijuana in a constitutional amendment
- But in 2017, then-Governor Rick Scott signed a law that banned smoking pot in all forms
- When DeSantis took office in January, he gave lawmakers a deadline of March 15 to send a bill to him that would repeal the ban
Smoking medical marijuana has been legalized in Florida.
On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that repealed the state’s ban on smokable medical cannabis.
Under the new law, card-carrying patients can receive 2.5 ounces of pot every 35 days.
In addition, patients under 18 are allowed to smoke if they’re terminally ill and if at least two doctors – one being a pediatrician – recommend it.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday that legalized smoking medical marijuana (file image)
DeSantis noted that more than 70 percent of voters approved medical marijuana in a 2016 constitutional amendment.
However, in 2017, then-Governor Rick Scott signed a law that banned smoking pot in all forms.
Upon taking office in January, DeSantis gave lawmakers a deadline of March 15 to act on repealing the ban.
Otherwise, he vowed to pull the Sunshine State out of a lawsuit that would lift Scott’s ban, reported WBBH.
The bill was passed in the Florida Senate by a vote of 34-4 on March 7 and in the House by a 101-11 vote on March 13.
‘I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of our voters is upheld,’ DeSantis said in a statement on Monday.
‘Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.’
John Morgan, an Orlando attorney who spearheaded 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 have the right to prohibit it and patients can’t possess more than four ounces of smokable marijuana.
Although the new law goes into effect immediately, the Florida Department of Health will need to release guidelines for physicians and approve dispensaries to sell pot in smokable forms, according to US News and World Report.
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 Washington, DC, and 34 states and DC have legalized medical marijuana.
A 2018 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, double the number from two decades ago in 2000.
Opinions of legalization differ by political party, with 69 percent of Democrats supporting it compared with 75 percent of Independents and just 45 percent of Republicans.