TALLAHASSEE — Light it up, folks. It’s legal now.
Two years after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, it’s now also lawful in the state to smoke it.
At the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Legislature has voted to repeal the state’s ban on using medical marijuana in smokable form rather than in something like baked goods. The governor had urged both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate to repeal the ban after a state judge had ruled it was unconstitutional.
DeSantis promised to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
“The Florida Legislature has taken a significant step this week to uphold the will of the voters and support the patients who will gain relief as a result of this legislation,” DeSantis said, and he praised legislative leaders who “have done a tremendous job, working hard to ensure the voices of Floridians are heard. I commend them for their diligence on this issue.”
When Did Medical Marijuana Become Legal in Florida?
In November 2016, Florida voters supported Amendment 2, a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, with 71% approving it. However, while Florida has since allowed medical marijuana in different forms — including edibles, baked goods, vaporizing, and oils — the measure did not allow patients to smoke medical marijuana — until now.
The amendment’s original supporters, including Orlando attorney John Morgan, sued to get that ban overturned, and a court agreed last year.
When DeSantis took office in January, he urged Florida lawmakers to repeal the ban by March 15, or he would drop an appeal of the court’s decision that had been filed by his predecessor, Gov. Rick Scott.
The Florida Senate approved the measure on an overwhelming 34-4 vote, while the Florida House of Representatives did the same by a similarly large margin.
The legislation also calls for the creation of an annual fund of $1.5 million for further research on smoking medical marijuana, and contains a provision requiring doctors to inform patients under the age of 18 about any possible negative effects of smoking marijuana.
DeSantis said he wanted the law changed because it was in keeping with the will of the voters.
Who Qualifies For Medical Marijuana?
In order to qualify for medical cannabis in this state, patients must:
- * Show proof of Florida residency;
- * Have been treated by their physician for at least three months;
- * Be listed by their doctor in the Compassionate Use Registry.
There are numerous medical marijuana offices in Orlando, including Orlando 420 Doctors, 4401 E Colonial Drive;
Woodstock Medicinal Doctors of Florida Medical Marijuana, 1500 Park Center Drive; the Orlando Medical Marijuana Treatment Center, 12211 Regency Village Drive; Marijuana Care Clinic, 114 W Underwood St.; and Medicinal Life, 114 W Underwood St.; and Knox Cannabis Dispensary, 1901 N. Orange Ave.
Studies indicate that medical marijuana has become big business in the state. Since 2017, it has translated into a nearly $6 billion industry. In the first nine months of 2018, more than 38.4 billion milligrams of medical marijuana got purchased in Florida.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.