Florida Senate passes bill to allow smokable medical cannabis

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The Florida Senate voted last week to repeal the ban on smokable medical cannabis products in an overwhelming 34-4 vote.

Bill SB 182 will allow for patients to get 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 35 days, will provide $1.5 million for medical cannabis research as well as allow smoking in certain nursing homes as well as hospice facilities.

“We’ve been working around the clock with our colleagues in the House, with the Governor’s Office to come up with a consensus product and I think we’ve done that,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes who sponsored the bill.  

“Being a physician is both and art and a science,” Brandes said on the Senate floor to his colleagues. “There is a latitude we give physicians to try a new drug and try experimentation. That’s how we build on this body of research.”

Medical cannabis was approved in Florida in 2016 but smokeable forms were banned by lawmakers in a bill signed by former Governor Rick Scott in the following year. Lawmakers said that medical cannabis patients could get their medicine in other forms such as edibles, vapes or oils. The state was sued for the ban and a judge declared last May that the ban is unconstitutional.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Grievers included in her ruling that residents “have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.”

Not all of the senators agree with the ban, but have agreed that it’s better than letting the courts deal with the issue. State Senator Rob Bradley previously sponsored the law the banned smoking cannabis has said that it’s “time to move on.”

“We did what we thought was right for the health of the people of the state of Florida,” said Bradley. “It’s time to move this discussion from Tallahassee to doctors’ offices around the state.”

The bill will be voted on in the Florida House this week with a few changes: smokable medical marijuana would not be allowed for children under any circumstances and it will come in pre-rolled cigarettes.

Brandes believes that the House will amend its version of the bill to match the language in the Senate bill to immediately go to Governor Ron DeSantis rather than have to return to the Senate.

“I think this is the final product. I hope it is. We’ve worked really hard to make sure that we don’t have to bring this one back,” said Brandes.

If DeSantis signs the bill, the new laws would take effect immediately.

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