The ban on smokable marijuana was officially repealed on Monday, with Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a compromise bill that was passed by legislators last week. The prohibition on sales of smokable cannabis was enacted by lawmakers and former Gov. Rick Scott after voters legalized the medicinal use of cannabis with a constitutional amendment in 2016. The ban was challenged in court and declared unconstitutional. After taking office, DeSantis told lawmakers he would not continue to support the ban in an appeal of the ruling if it were not repealed by March 15.
“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016. I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld,” DeSantis said in a tweet after signing the bill repealing the ban.
Under the repeal bill, medical marijuana patients will be permitted to possess up to four ounces of smokable cannabis. Smoking cannabis in public or in private businesses subject to the state prohibition on cigarette smoking will continue to be illegal, and terminally ill children under the age of 18 will only be allowed to smoke cannabis with the approval of two doctors including a pediatrician.
Cannabis Advocates Applaud Repeal
John Morgan, an Orlando attorney who largely financed the 2016 ballot proposal that legalized medical marijuana, said that the ban did not conform with the amendment that was approved by voters.
“(The new law) means the will of the people has been heard,” Morgan said. “For the sick and injured (it means) an alternative to opioids and pharmaceutical poison.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has advocated for a repeal of the ban, said that it was not up to lawmakers to make healthcare decisions for the people of Florida.
“Patients should be able to access medicine in the form their doctor determines best for them,” Fried said. “Whether it’s smoking medical marijuana or other delivery mechanisms, treatment decisions should be made by physicians, not politicians.”
The repeal of the ban on smokable cannabis goes into effect immediately, although the state Department of Health will have to issue regulations before it can be sold in medical marijuana dispensaries. Trulieve, the largest medical marijuana provider in Florida, said that it will be ready to supply smokable marijuana once the guidelines have been released, which could take weeks or even months, according to media reports.
After signing the repeal bill on Monday, DeSantis filed a motion with the state appellate court to drop the lawsuit, now that the ban has been lifted.