Smoking medical marijuana is now legal in Florida?
You heard that right! It's been a long time in the making. Back in 2016, Floridians voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana. However, the then Governor Rick Scott signed a law back in 2017 that banned marijuana smoking in all forms. Shortly after Governor Ron DeSantis took office back in January, he called on the Florida legislature to send a bill to his desk that would legalize medical marijuana by March 15th. As promised the ban was overturned. when DeSantis signed legislation to repeal the ban. The new law ends a two-year prohibition on smokable marijuana. The ban had limited patients to use items like vaporizers, needles and creams.
DeSantis and other officials alleged that the ban contradicted the voters' wishes.
"I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of our voters is upheld," DeSantis tweeted, referring to the 70 percent of voters who approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016.
The law goes into effect immediately, but the state Department of Health still must release guidelines for doctors and approve licensed dispensaries to sell their new smokable marijuana products.
The bill also allows medical marijuana users to purchase products such as bongs, pipes or rolling papers at third-party locations. The bill does not specifically address the integration of medical marijuana treatment centers nor does it discuss drug-free workplace protections.
What this means for Floridians:
Medical marijuana users can possess up to 4 ounces but still can't smoke in public areas. The bill also specifies that individuals under 18 can only smoke medical marijuana if they are terminally ill and have received a second opinion from another doctor.
Under the law, smokable marijuana must be sold in “plain, opaque, and white” packaging “without depictions of the product or images other than the medical marijuana treatment center’s department-approved logo and the marijuana universal symbol.”
The Marijuana Policy Project, a group which seeks to decriminalize marijuana, said the law is a great step forward and provides patients with more treatment options.
"(Medical marijuana) should be an option available to patients and a decision for patients to make with their doctors, not one that should be made by government officials," a spokesman for the group said.
Legal recreational marijuana could be next
Activists are hopeful weed might soon become available to everyone aged 21 or older across the Sunshine State. The group Regulate Florida,which made a failed attempt at getting recreational marijuana on the ballot last year, is trying again for 2020.
A poll released earlier this month revealed 62 percent of voters support legalizing recreational weed. That's just over the 60 percent required to pass an amendment.
Under Regulate Florida's proposed amendment, marijuana would be legalized for adults aged 21 or older. It would be regulated like alcohol, with ID required for purchase and driving under the influence prohibited. Home cultivation would be allowed, but only "legitimate, taxpaying business people" would be permitted to conduct sales.