The Florida House of Representatives passed a repeal of the state’s ban on smokable marijuana with a vote of 101-11 on Wednesday, sending the measure to Gov. Rick DeSantis for his signature. The state Senate unanimously passed the repeal statute, Senate Bill 182, last week. The bill eliminates a ban on smokable cannabis that was enacted by the legislature after Florida’s medical marijuana legalization constitutional amendment was passed by voters in 2016.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has advocated for a repeal of the ban, said in a statement that Wednesday’s “action to finally allow smokable medical marijuana brings four words to the lips of people across our state: It’s about damn time.”
Under SB 182, medical marijuana patients will be permitted to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of smokable cannabis every 35 days. Smoking cannabis in public will continue to be illegal, and terminally ill children will only be allowed to smoke cannabis with the approval of a pediatrician. A House proposal to only allow pre-rolled joints with filters was not included in the Senate bill.
“I’m thankful for the House and Senate’s work to fix this situation and look forward to the governor signing this much-needed legislation into law,” Fried said. “It’s long past due that the state of Florida honored the will of the people and allowed doctors to determine their patient’s course of treatment.”
Governor Had Called for Repeal of Ban
The legislature was spurred to action by DeSantis, who took office earlier this year, when he threatened to abandon an appeal of a legal ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional if it were not repealed by March 15. After the House vote on Wednesday, DeSantis took to social media to express his gratitude to lawmakers for acting on his ultimatum.
“I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters,” the governor said in a tweet.
Although he voted for the repeal, Rep. Ray Rodrigues said that “many of us feel like we got it right” with the ban, which he helped to draft. By repealing the ban, the legislature will retain some control over the sale of smokable cannabis.
“I’m not going to have all of your votes today, and I understand that and I respect that. My encouragement to you is to vote your conscience, but what I would say is this: This bill is important because if we do not pass this bill, then the guardrails that we could place around smokable medical marijuana will not exist,” Rodrigues said.
House Speaker José Oliva had argued against lifting the ban on smokable marijuana and has voiced concerns about allowing patients to smoke their medicine.
“I don’t know, and we don’t have the data–hopefully we will in the coming years—to show if there truly are benefits to consuming this medicine in this fashion. I personally don’t believe that there probably is. And there might be some detrimental effects as a result of that, which is why I had reservations then, and I still have them now,” Oliva said.
According to the Orlando Weekly, Oliva “has made a fortune in the cigar business.”