By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
March 11, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Patients could be able to legally smoke medical marijuana by the end of the week.
State lawmakers appear to be on track to lift the ban on smokable medical marijuana as early as Wednesday, two days earlier than the March 15 deadline set by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Bill sponsors and advocates say the legislation will bring the state’s medical marijuana program closer in line with what voters approved in 2016. Senate Sponsor Jeff Brandes says it will undo the prohibition which has been declared unconstitutional by the courts.
“That's what our goal here was, to make sure that we're focused on accomplishing what the courts have directed and what the voters voted on overwhelmingly,” said Brandes.
Governor DeSantis called on the legislature to make the change soon after taking office, 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.
“For me, I just think we have to apply with the constitution. I'm not going to fight these lawsuits when we're on the losing side of them,” said DeSantis.
The final product would allow doctors to recommend 2.5 ounces of smokable cannabis for a 35-day supply or 4 ounces for a 70-day supply.
It also prohibits those under 18 from receiving smokable cannabis unless they have a terminal condition, are recommended by two doctors and have parental consent.
Those protections prompted Senator Denis Baxley to vote yes for the first time on a marijuana bill.
“It protected the children and if we didn't pass that, then we would get the result of the court ruling, which would be no protection even for the kids,” said Baxley.
For a doctor to recommend smokable cannabis for the average patient, they must submit documentation to the State Board of Medicine, justifying why the benefits of smoking outweigh the risks.
Patients must also sign an informed consent form, which explains the possible negative health risks of smoking.
On Tuesday, cannabis activists will be in the State Capitol, meeting with lawmakers and discussing other possible reforms to the state’s medical marijuana and hemp industries.