Repeal of smokable medical marijuana ban heads to governor

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Legislation that would allow for medical marijuana patients to smoke their medicine cleared the Florida House Wednesday afternoon and is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk.

The bill passed on a 101-11 vote on Wednesday and is the first bill to go to the governor during the 60-day legislative session that began last week.

Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but lawmakers banned smokable forms of the plant in a bill signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017. The state was sued over the issue, and a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. Scott, now a Republican U.S. senator, appealed the ruling.

The bill puts tight restrictions on access to smokable cannabis for those under 18, requiring the patient to be suffering from a terminal condition and have authorization from their parents and two doctors.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ray Rodrigues told members the final product was better than if the Legislature had chosen to do nothing and let the governor drop the state’s appeal of a court ruling that found the ban on smokable unconstitutional.

“If the judicial order is put into effect then we will have smoking of medical marijuana without any of the guidelines that we have placed," said state Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Meyers. "And while I don't think either situation is good I think the situation that results from the passage of this bill is better than the passage that would result if we were not to pass this bill.”

DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law quickly.

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