Newly sworn-in Governor Ron DeSantis officially ended the statewide ban on smokable forms of medical cannabis in Florida, making good on the promise he made to patients.
On Monday, March 18, 2019, Gov. DeSantis signed Senate Bill 182 “Medical Use of Marijuana” into law. In doing so, medical cannabis patients are finally legally permitted to smoke dried cannabis flower if their doctor recommends that specific method of administration. Previously, it was illegal for patients to smoke their cannabis medication, according to the law.
“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld. 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.”
When Florida voters approved Measure 2 in 2016, effectively legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, they voted on legislation which permitted smoking. Before the medical cannabis program was up and running, however, legislators had made some edits against the will of the people. After the edited version was signed into law by then Governor Rick Scott, only forms of medical cannabis that could be ingested or vaporized, like edibles and concentrates, were allowed.
After two years of waiting, the patients of Florida have finally been granted access to smokeable forms of medical cannabis, but they still cannot go out and purchase it right away. Before patients can purchase dried flower from the dispensary, the Department of Health has to establish the guidelines for doctors to follow in making the recommendation for patients to smoke it as well as the regulations for dispensaries to follow when selling it.
Medical marijuana patients over the age of 18 who wish to smoke will be issued an informed consent form detailing the potential harms of inhaling smoke. Patients will only be allowed to purchase a maximum of 2.5 ounces of dried flower every 35 days.
It will remain illegal for patients under the age of 18 to smoke it, unless he or she is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a recommendation from a doctor. Smoking in public will also remain illegal in the state.
It is unclear whether the wait for smokable forms will be weeks or months, but at least there is progress in the right direction.
Which conditions qualify for medical cannabis in Florida?
The following conditions are listed on the state’s website as qualifying a patient to apply for a medical marijuana card:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those above
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition