In the long and bitter back-and-forth between cannabis advocates and government officials over Florida marijuana laws, newly-elected Gov. Ron DeSantis presented a reprieve Thursday, announcing he has demanded the state legislature to repeal the ban on smokable marijuana. If lawmakers don’t act by mid-March, the governor said he’d drop an appeal filed by his predecessor, Rick Scott, that has effectively upheld the ban in Florida.
DeSantis also demonstrated a desire to work with persistent medical marijuana champions Rep. Matthew Gaetz (R-FL) and John Morgan, who were both beside DeSantis as he made his address. DeSantis added that he will drop several appeals previously made by the state, regarding “limited licensing and vertical integration, which requires medical marijuana companies to grow, manufacture, sell and market their own product,” reports the Tampa Bay Times.
“What the Florida Legislature has done to implement the people’s will has not been done in accordance with what the amendment envisioned,” DeSantis said. “Whether they (patients) have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that? I want people to be able to have their suffering relieved. I don’t think this law is up to snuff.”
In 2016, the voters of Florida spoke loud and clear on the issue of medical marijuana.
Here in Florida, we must have a pathway for those who have a medical need to smoke marijuana to do so!
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 17, 2019
According to the Orlando Sentinel, leaders in both the House and Senate have expressed a willingness to work with DeSantis despite the quick turnaround. Florida’s legislative sessions begins March 5.
“The governor’s willingness to engage with us is appreciated and the House will work with the governor on his priorities, including ensuring patients have options and our kids remain protected,” said House Speaker Jose Oliva.
Back in 2016, more than 71 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. However, the 2017 bill Gov. Rick Scott signed into law denied access to smokable marijuana and capped the number of licenses and dispensaries available within Florida. Voters were not happy. This led to lengthy legal battles in the state, most of them bankrolled by Morgan, who also funded the initial amendment’s campaign, resulting in Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruling that the state’s ban was “unconstitutional.”
According to DeSantis’ statements yesterday, the years-long battle appears to finally be over.
“This is all about doing the people’s will,” DeSantis said. “I don’t want this thing done judiciously if we can help it.”