Although the rusty wheels of the Florida legislature have been less than keen over the years about giving the state’s medical marijuana patients the freedom to smoke their medicine, it’s just a matter of time before this control is snuffed out. A couple of bills being strong armed through legislative channels would finally give patients the right to smoke the herb for therapeutic use.
However, there could be some stipulations, including one that would only allow smokable marijuana in the form of pre-rolled joint with filters.
The battle for the right to smoke weed in the Sunshine State is one that has been claws-out since the voters approved the medical marijuana initiative in 2016. There has been so much bickering between state officials and cannabis advocates over this issue for the past two years that trying to sum it up for you would be borderline mind-numbing — it’s too much to even try to get into it.
So, let’s just say the topic of allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana has been split down the middle. The suits don’t want it, while patients are demanding the law they approved to begin with.
The only important aspect of this back-and-forth brawl for bud is how it how some newly elected officials have turned it around.
Shortly after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis took office, he told legislative forces to amend the law to allow medical marijuana to be smoked. If they failed, he would cancel out a state appeal of a court decision opposing the ban.
“What the Florida Legislature has done to implement the people’s will has not been done in accordance with what the amendment envisioned,” DeSantis said. “Whether [patients] have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that? I want people to be able to have their suffering relieved. I don’t think this law is up to snuff.”
Both the Florida House and Senate have advanced legislation to end the smoking ban. It’s not that they’ve had a change of heart, its more about lawmakers being frightened of what is to come if they do not make DeSantis’ March 15 deadline. Essentially lawmakers are flipping their script over the governor’s threat to drop the appeal, as this would, according to House Health and Human Services Chairman Ray Rodrigues, turn the state into “the wild, wild west when it comes to using medical marijuana.”
But the two bills are slightly different.
Although the House version is calling for pre-rolls with filters, not to mention a provision that would force doctors to provide documentation supporting their recommendations for marijuana in smokable forms, the Senate proposal would not hold the medical marijuana program to the same restrictions.
This one is designed to give dispensaries the freedom to sell any kind of smokable marijuana — not just pre-rolls — and even provide smoking privileges to patients in assisted living, hospice care and nursing homes. It would also allow smoke shops to carry and sell paraphernalia. This proposal falls more in line with what voters approved.
There is still some question over a Senate provision demanding a second opinion from a state-licensed physician before smokable forms could be recommended, but this is something that Senator Jeff Brandes, the bill’s sponsor, thinks will be pulled out of the final draft.
So, will lawmakers find a happy medium on the two pieces of legislation in time enough to prevent the wild west from erupting?
Brandes believes so.
He told the News Service of Florida that the two chambers will “find a place to land this,” and that they should have it wrapped up ahead of the deadline.
No matter how it shakes out, Floridians should soon have the option of smoking medical marijuana.
TELL US, what do you think about the current ban on smokable marijuana?