Medical marijuana patients in Florida will soon be lighting up. In a recent turn of events, the Florida legislature repealed the existing ban on smokable medical cannabis, expanding their once limited medical program to allow for the medical use of flower.
Floridians voted to legalize medical marijuana back in 2016. With the passage of Amendment 2, patients with specific qualifying conditions gained access to medical cannabis throughout the state. Smokable cannabis, however, remained illegal.
Up until now, the state-run medical cannabis program has produced a limited set of medical products for a small pool of patients, including vaporizers, capsules, topical creams, and other THC-containing products. States like California and Colorado have fairly liberal medical marijuana laws that allow for the consumption of flower, while other states with legalized medical cannabis, such as Florida, have relatively limited medical programs. Lifting the existing ban would allow approved medical patients in the state of Florida to legally consume smokable cannabis in the privacy of their own homes.
Soon after taking office in January of this year, Governor Ron DeSantis called on the Florida state legislature to amend current state law governing medical marijuana use. In addition, the existing ban on smokable cannabis was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida courts back in 2017. Following the court’s decision, the State of Florida promptly appealed the ruling. Gov. DeSantis actually threatened to drop appeal altogether if the state legislature is unable to make sufficient progress, with a March 15 deadline.
Last week, the Florida State Senate voted 34-4 in favor of legalizing the use of cannabis flower for patients in the state with qualifying medical conditions. This past Wednesday, in a vote of 101-11, the Florida House of Representatives successfully passed SB-182. The proposal aims to make the smokable form of cannabis legal for patients participating in the state’s medical marijuana program.
In response to the proposal to lift the ban on smokable cannabis, and prior to the House vote on Wednesday, said Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues, “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 marijuana will not exist.”
Said Gov. DeSantis in a Tweet following the Florida House vote, “I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters.”
According to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a former medical cannabis lobbyist, the ban’s repeal is “long past due.” Said Fried, “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. 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.”