March 19, 2019 - 9:00am
Patients who get medical marijuana from their doctors will be able to smoke it legally, under a bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Monday.
DeSantis signed SB 182 “Medical Use of Marijuana” (Ch. 2019-1 SB 182, Laws of Florida). Additionally, he filed a joint motion to dismiss People United for Medical Marijuana v. Department of Health and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.
Though more than 70 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, the Legislature passed a bill a year later that banned it in smokable forms.
Enter Orlando attorney John Morgan, who self-financed most of the push to put the measure on the ballot in the first place. He filed suit, saying the intent of the amendment allowed for smokable marijuana. A lower court agreed, but Gov. Rick Scott, DeSantis’ predecessor, appealed the ruling in 2018.
In January the governor called on his colleagues in the Legislature to bring forward a legislative solution to medical marijuana, to allow smoking as a method of consumption by qualified patients.
“... 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 motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”
- A copy of the Transmittal Letter for Ch. 2019-1 SB 182 can be found HERE.
- A copy of the bill signed by DeSantis for Ch. 2019-1 SB 182 can be found HERE.
- A copy of the Governor’s motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision can be found HERE.
Attorney Morgan reacted in an email to the Orlando Sentinel. “It means the will of the people has been heard,” Morgan wrote. “For the sick and injured [it means] an alternative to opioids and pharmaceutical poison. Taken all together it means hope, safe wellness and victory for the people. My job is now done.”
“We appreciate and commend the Legislature and Governor DeSantis for repealing the ban on smokable whole-flower cannabis," replied Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, a medical marijuana dispensary. "We stand ready to meet the needs of patients whose doctors order smokable products and are confident that the Department of Health is moving with all due haste. Trulieve looks forward to selling safe smokable flower to our patients.”
Secretary of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, who based much of her 2018 winning campaign on her promotion of medical marijuana, was among the first to issue a post-bill signing statement.
“Today is a landmark victory for patients across Florida and for our democracy," she wrote. "It’s a triumph owed to the relentless advocacy of Floridians who refused to be silenced. Our state must not disregard the voice of its people -- when the people’s will is nullified by those with authority, liberty cannot survive
"Patients should be able to access medicine in the form their doctor determines best for them. Whether it’s smoking medical marijuana or other delivery mechanisms, treatment decisions should be made by physicians, not politicians.”