The years-long effort to give sick people the right to smoke marijuana is near the finish line.
With no debate on Wednesday, the Florida House voted 101-11 for a bill (SB 182) that will let doctors prescribe smokeable marijuana. Now, it’s up to Gov. Ron DeSantis to approve it. DeSantis has already said he supports it.
The legislation lets patients get a 35-day supply of up to 2.5 ounces of smokable medical marijuana. They can refill the prescription five times without returning to the doctor’s office. Patients could not possess more than 4 ounces of the drug at a time.
The legislation also bans people from smoking marijuana in public. It would allow terminally ill children to smoke marijuana, if approved by their doctors along with a second opinion from a pediatrician.
Medical marijuana is only available now to patients in non-smokable forms, such as in drops, vape pens or oral syringes.
Although 71.3 percent of the voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing medical marijuana in 2016, implementation stalled under former Gov. Rick Scott.
A trial judge ruled last year that a 2017 law implementing the use of medical marijuana violated the state Constitution by not allowing people to smoke it. The Scott administration appealed the decision.
But when he took office in January, DeSantis threatened to drop the appeal, allowing sick people to start smoking immediately unless lawmakers resolved the issue by mid-March.
Rep. Ray Rodrigues, a Lee County Republican who sponsored the House version of the bill, urged members to support the legislation, saying it provides state guidelines that would not be there if the state simply dropped the appeal.
He also urged the medical community “to be responsible” in dispensing the medication.
“It is incumbent upon them to do their jobs, to treat this as medicine and be diligent in how they are recommending it to their patients,” Rodrigues said. “The last thing we want to see is the pill mill crisis that occurred with opioids occurring …in this state with medical marijuana.”
Today’s House vote follows a 34-4 Senate vote in favor of the legislation last week.
Florida Agriculure Commissioner Nikki Fried, a former lobbyist for the legal marijuana industry, tweeted: “Today’s action to finally allow smokable medical
#marijuana brings four words to the lips of people across our state: It’s about damn time.”