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Politics

Smokable Medical Marijuana Gets Legislative Green Light

March 14, 2019 - 9:00am

In their first full action of the 2019 legislative session, Florida lawmakers --- many of them grudgingly --- ceded to a demand by Gov. Ron DeSantis and overwhelmingly approved a proposal doing away with the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana.

DeSantis issued an ultimatum to the Legislature shortly after the Republican governor took office in January, threatening to drop the state’s appeal of a court decision that found the smoking ban ran afoul of a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

The House passed the proposal (SB 182) in a 101-11 vote Wednesday, sending the bill to the governor two days before a March 15 deadline he had set. The Senate passed the bill last week.

The Republican-controlled Legislature included the smoking ban in a 2017 law aimed at implementing the constitutional amendment, which was approved by more than 71 percent of Florida voters in 2016.

Despite DeSantis’ insistence that the ban be repealed, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican who sponsored the measure Wednesday and who was instrumental in crafting the 2017 law, noted that “many of us feel like we got it right” the first time.

“I’m not going to have all of your votes today, and I understand that and I respect that. My encouragement to you is to vote your conscience, but what I would say is this: This bill is important because if we do not pass this bill, then the guardrails that we could place around smokable medical marijuana will not exist,” Rodrigues said before Wednesday afternoon’s House vote.

DeSantis conveyed his thanks on Twitter to the Legislature “for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters.”

In the social media post, the governor gave a shout-out to House Speaker José Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano, as well as bill sponsors Rodrigues and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, “for their leadership and hard work on this difficult issue.”

The measure awaiting the governor’s signature would allow patients to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for smoking every 35 days, ban smoking of medical marijuana in public places and allow terminally ill children to smoke the treatment, but only if they have a second opinion from a pediatrician.

Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican who has made a fortune in the cigar business, had balked at doing away with the marijuana-smoking ban. Supporters of the ban have argued, in part, that smoking is hazardous to people’s health.

But after DeSantis delivered the ultimatum, the House made a series of concessions to reach an accord with the Senate, which historically has taken a less-restrictive approach toward medical marijuana.

For example, a House proposal initially would have restricted medical marijuana dispensaries to selling pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes, along with other cannabis-based products not used for smoking.

Under the compromise passed by both chambers, dispensaries can sell any form of smokable marijuana, and patients can buy devices to smoke cannabis at state-licensed medical marijuana treatment centers or other retail outlets, such as head shops.

The Senate, meanwhile, yielded to the House by agreeing to limits on how much smokable cannabis patients could purchase at one time, as well as a cap on the total amount patients could have.

The proposal, which was quickly sent Wednesday to DeSantis, also requires the state university system’s Board of Governors to designate a university to house a “Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research” and steers $1.5 million each year to fund the research, which would be based on data submitted by doctors.

Oliva, who voted in favor of the bill, told reporters he continues to have concerns about allowing patients to smoke their medicine, which he called “a difficult subject.”

“I don’t know, and we don’t have the data --- hopefully we will in the coming years --- to show if there truly are benefits to consuming this medicine in this fashion. I personally don’t believe that there probably is. And there might be some detrimental effects as a result of that, which is why I had reservations then, and I still have them now,” he said Wednesday.

But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who once lobbied for the medical marijuana industry and who made medical cannabis the cornerstone of her election campaign last year, called the repeal “long past due.”

“Today’s action to finally allow smokable medical marijuana brings four words to the lips of people across our state: It’s about damn time,” Fried said in a statement. “I’m thankful for the House and Senate’s work to fix this situation and look forward to the governor signing this much-needed legislation into law. It’s long past due that the state of Florida honored the will of the people and allowed doctors to determine their patient’s course of treatment.”

Comments

Recreational cannabis in Florida is inevitable. Since the DNC thinks they can put out a sail and ride that wind in the next election, it's advisable to take the wind out of their sails by taking legislative action to make any ballot initiative moot.

Dara, Dara, Dara. The 60s are calling and it wants it's hippy language back. Saw you on Usual Suspects, always well spoken and thoughtful, except for your inability to leave the druggie language in the past. Pot, weed, marijuana. All cultural slang that evokes the racial and disparaging slang of a bygone era. The proper term? Cannabis. Cannabis Hemp. Cannabis Sativa. Cannabis Indica. Cannabis Hybrid and Hybridization. Please ditch the slang and use the correct terms. Forget the hype and enc correct terms. Thanks

It's about time. Tiny steps are the best our state lawmakers seem capable of. At least they finally got around to following the will of voters. Still so much to do. Squash the cartel. Lower al costs. Let qualified pat grow their own. AND! Cut out the discrimination against MC and CCP and purchasing firearms. It's taking way too long.

re:"Republicans promoting the smoking of pot is worth a major laugh!", I think you have it backwards, Republicans are heeding the will of the voters, the smoking of pot is a constitutional guarantee, and no amount of courtroom drama will overturn the will of the people.

Republicans promoting the smoking of pot is worth a major laugh! What has the Republican party come to??? Trump and pot. Wow.

Kind of like how Democrats promote abortion.

You wimps "cede to the "new wet behind the ears" Governor?!?!?... LET THE "APPEAL" PROCEED THROUGH THE COURT ! This "Quid Pro Quo" nonsense in legislative "backrooms" MUST CEASE ("Political Lagniappes" MUST be outlawed .... they used to be called BRIBES !!!! ).

So they're wimps because they don't continue to interfere with the Const. Amend. passed in 2016? Not wimpy, just cowards with their hands out to lobbyists. Pot is not the problem. People profiting from a plant being illegal is the problem.

By over 70% in favor Florida voters passed the constitutional amendment for medical cannabis legalization easily achieving the required supermajority. NOWHERE in the language of the amendment did it restrict smoking cannabis as a method of consumption. After the amendment PASSED Florida Republicans with the possible exception of Rick DeSantis have done everything possible to deny the will of the people and stop legalization efforts including making smoking medical cannabis illegal. These corrupt politicians answer to corporations for alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical drugs and private prisons that are scared witless that cannabis legalization will upset their multi-billion dollar deadly addictive stranglehold on the US public. Florida voters should take careful note of this corruption next time they vote and excise these corrupt politicians in favor of new representation that answers to the will of the people not corporations.

"In their first full action of the 2019 legislative session, Florida lawmakers --- many of them grudgingly --- ceded to a demand by Gov. Ron DeSantis and overwhelmingly approved a proposal doing away with the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana." >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>This line reminds me of the quote:It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.>>>>>>>>>>>It is sad to see that so many people have built their livelihood on fighting a common plant, and that so many people have been harmed by those same people.

It's obviously NOT a "common plant". To some it's a medicine and to others it's a Friday evening to relax and forget about their troubles for a while. Unfortunately, it's also a stigma. As you can see, it's taking time to get past that.

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