House to Decide Fate of Smokable Medical Marijuana Today
Jordan Kirkland - March 13th, 2019
Patients in Florida could be able to legally smoke medical marijuana by the end of this week.
Today, Florida lawmakers in the House will decide whether or not to lift the ban on smokable medical marijuana, two days prior to the mandatory deadline set by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Last week, the Senate unanimously passedSB 182 by a 34-4 vote to remove the prohibition.
Legislators passed a law in 2017 legalizing the use of medical marijuana -- approved by 71 percent of voters in 2016. The law, however, barred patients from access to smokable marijuana, restricting them to oils and baked goods.
The largely bipartisan bill has received immense support from both sides of the aisle, with Gov. Ron DeSantis leading the charge to give voters what they asked for in 2016.
Shortly after taking office, DeSantis made it clear that he wanted people needing medical marijuana to be able to get it easier. In January, he called on the legislature to make the change, threatening to drop the state’s appeal of John Morgan’s "No Smoke is a Joke Case" if a bill wasn’t on his desk by March 15.
“If they’re not able to do it then I will try to bring this to a conclusion,” DeSantis said in January at a press conference in Winter Park, standing alongside attorney John Morgan and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, two vocal proponents for relaxing state and federal marijuana laws.
“Look, we’ve got a lot of fish to fry in Florida and the last thing I want to do be doing is to be cleaning up something that should have been done two years ago,” DeSantis told reporters at the press conference. “This should have been implemented and we should have moved on.”
In November 2016, voters approved Amendment 2, also known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The amendment created a comprehensive medical cannabis program with significantly expanded qualifying conditions. Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the constitutional amendment, which granted seriously ill patients the right to medical marijuana.
Under the law, patients could consume medical marijuana via oils, sprays, tinctures, and vaping. Edibles were also allowed. Lawmakers, however, limited the scope of how people with debilitating medical conditions could use the drug.
Officials excluded smoking as a method for medical treatment, arguing that smoking would blur the lines, opening the doors for recreational use.
If the House decides to lift the ban, the bill would allow doctors to recommend a 2.5 ounces of smokable cannabis for a 35 day supply or 4 ounces for a 70 day supply, according to the text in the bill.
The bill, however, would prohibit those under 18 from receiving smokable cannabis, unless they have a terminal condition, are recommended by two doctors and have parental consent.
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are getting behind the proposal, with some Republicans voting yes for the first time on a marijuana-related bill.
Republican Senator Jeff Brandes, who co-introduced the bill, believes lifting the ban would follow a court's ruling the declared the ban unconstitutional, and ultimately, adhere to the will of people.
Representatives in the House will decide the fate of HB 7015 at 3 p.m on Wednesday. It is expected that the measure will pass. The bill would then head to the governor's desk.
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