Marijuana smoking legal battle put on hold

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An appeals court Tuesday put on hold a case challenging the constitutionality of a ban on smoking medical marijuana, as Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes lawmakers to eliminate the ban.

The 1st District Court of Appeal approved a stay sought by both sides in the lawsuit. Attorneys last week asked the court to postpone the case “through and including March 15.”

The case centers on whether a 2017 law that banned patients from smoking medical marijuana ran afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized the cannabis treatment for Floridians with debilitating medical conditions.

After a Leon County circuit judge sided with the plaintiffs, the state -- under former Gov. Rick Scott -- appealed the ruling. But this month, DeSantis said he wanted the Legislature to do away with the ban, and he gave lawmakers until mid-March to address the issue.

DeSantis also has threatened to drop the appeal if lawmakers don’t act.

The Senate Health Policy Committee on Monday is scheduled to take up a bill (SB 182), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would eliminate the smoking ban.