Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill to make smokable flower legal across the Sunshine State.
Senate Bill 182 (SB182), titled “Medical Use of Marijuana,” is the first piece of legislation that DeSantis has signed into law since coming into office.
With the passage of SB182, Floridians who qualify for medical marijuana are now able to legally consume cannabis in its purest form.
Medical cannabis became legal in Florida back in 2016. Since then, however, smokable cannabis, commonly referred to as flower, has remained illegal, even for medical patients.
The medical program in Florida has been pretty limited since it began, with only a selected variety of products available to qualifying patients, including approved vaporizers, capsules, and creams.
A Win For Advocates In Florida
The issue came to a head in 2017, when state legislators attempted to pass a law banning the medical use of smokable cannabis.
Marijuana legalization advocates have been rallying against the ban on flower ever since. A lawsuit decrying the ban as unconstitutional was filed back in 2017 by Orlando attorney and Democratic fundraiser, John Morgan. Morgan has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts in the state of Florida for years. More recently, Morgan has been focusing his efforts on getting the issue of recreational cannabis onto the 2020 state ballot.
Said Morgan, “Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream.”
Moreover, according to the lawsuit, “By redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of ‘a licensed Florida physician’ and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process.”
In addition to signing SB182, Gov. DeSantis also filed a joint motion to throw out the 2017 lawsuit filed by Morgan.
Said Gov. DeSantis upon signing the bill, “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld. Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint mission to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”
Upon becoming Governor, DeSantis warned state legislatures that if they didn’t come up with a solution for the problem posed by the ban on smokable cannabis, he would do so himself.
Florida residents needn’t get too excited about the change. Yes, the passage of SB182 does make smokable flower legal for over 140,000 medical marijuana patients across the state of Florida, technically. Florida certainly isn’t planning on becoming the next Colorado, though: once dispensaries start selling flower, it will only be available in the form of pre-rolled joints. Public consumption of medical marijuana will still be illegal, regardless of the form of cannabis consumed. According to Florida State Representative Ray Rodrigues, “We’d be facing essentially the wild, wild West when it comes to the use of medical marijuana. We believe there should be guard rails around that, so that’s why we…put this bill together.”