Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the state legislature Thursday to repeal the ban on smokeable cannabis from the state’s medical marijuana statute. At a press conference in Winter Park, Florida, DeSantis said that the ban is not in line with the will of the voters.
“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.”
DeSantis also said that if the ban is not rescinded by the middle of March, he will drop an appeal filed by former Gov. Rick Scott to keep it in the law. In May, a judge ruled that prohibition against smoking cannabis violated Amendment 2, the measure passed by 71 percent of voters in 2016 that legalized medical cannabis in the state.
Cannabis Advocates Support Repeal of Ban
Agriculture commissioner and cannabis advocate Nikki Fried called on lawmakers to act before March.
“Every day that medical marijuana in the pure plant form is unavailable to patients, Floridians continue to suffer,” she said. “This is an issue I’ve seen firsthand throughout our state and country, and one that touches my family personally — my mother was recently diagnosed with cancer, and she is struggling to find medicine that relieves her suffering. The fact that she can’t access the medicine she needs breaks my heart.”
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, another supporter of medical cannabis in Florida, said that the ban on smokable cannabis is an overreach of authority.
“What other drug does the government tell you how to ingest?” said Brandes. “It’s a doctor-patient issue. The government doesn’t insert themselves in there.”
Brandes also said he would introduce legislation to remove regulations requiring vertically integrated medical marijuana providers to cultivate, process, and sell all of their own cannabis products. DeSantis also said he would abandon appeals on those regulations and some licensing requirements. DeSantis said the legal challenges should be abandoned so the government could concentrate on more important matters.
“We have a lot of fish to fry in Florida,” DeSantis said. “The last thing I want to do be doing is cleaning up something that should have been done two years ago. I don’t want to continue fighting some of these old battles.”