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Florida Senate Passes Smokable Medical Marijuana Bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Winter Park in January announced a change in the state's approach to smokable medical marijuana. Photo: Christian Simmons, WMFE

Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana could soon be coming to an end.

The Senate voted 34-4 Thursday for a bill that would allow patients to use smokable forms of the plant. The vote was one of the first actions the Senate took during the 60-day session that began Tuesday.

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 Senate compromised with the House by agreeing to limits on how much smokable cannabis patients could purchase at one time, along with a cap on the total amount patients could have.

Senator Jeff Brandes sponsored the proposal that would allow patients to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for smoking every 35 days, ban smoking of medical marijuana in public places and allow terminally ill children to smoke the treatment, but only if they have a second opinion from a pediatrician.

“This legislation will allow for smokable marijuana,” Brandes said. “It accomplishes the will of the voters. That is what our goal here was, to make sure we are focused on accomplishing what the courts have directed and what the voters voted on overwhelmingly.”

Senator Rob Bradley said the discussion over smokable marijuana had become a distraction.

“It’s an issue that it’s time to move past,” Bradley said. “Let’s move onto other things in the medical marijuana space, other than whether we should allow smoking or not. I think there are appropriate guiderails in the bill.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in January that the current law doesn’t represent the will of the voters. He said he’d drop the appeal if lawmakers didn’t repeal it.

The House will vote on its version of the bill next week. Check here to read more about how Florida came to this point as part of our 2019 Legislative Preview series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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