By: Gray RohrerContact Reporter

Tallahassee Bureau

March 18, 2019

 

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TALLAHASSEE – Eligible patients who are ordered medical marijuana by their doctors will be able to smoke the substance legally, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday.

The bill (SB 182) is the first of DeSantis’ short tenure, and an early legislative victory. DeSantis insisted that lawmakers to pass a measure repealing the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana by last Friday, or he would drop the state’s appeal of an ongoing lawsuit over the ban.

More than 70 percent of voters approved a ballot measure in 2016 legalizing marijuana for medical use, but the Legislature passed a bill setting up a program to administer it a year later that nevertheless banned it in smokable forms.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the push to put the measure on the ballot, filed suit, saying the intent of the amendment allowed for smokable marijuana. A lower court agreed but Gov. Rick Scott, DeSantis’ predecessor, appealed the ruling last year.

“I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”

Morgan, who attended a press conference where DeSantis called for the repeal and has supported the new governor’s efforts on medical marijuana, said he was pleased with the result and that he signed off on dismissing the appeal.

“It means the will of the people has been heard,” Morgan told the Sentinel in an email. “For the sick and injured (it means) an alternative to opioids and pharmaceutical poison. Taken all together it means hope, safe wellness and victory for the people. My job is now done.”

The new law takes effect immediately, but it could take time for the Department of Health, the agency that oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, to approve new rules to guide doctors, meaning patients might have to wait a little longer for the smokable forms.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

grohrer@orlandosentinel.com or (850) 222-5564

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