Governor DeSantis wants to move forward with smokable medical marijuana


Saying they failed to heed the will of voters, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida lawmakers Thursday to eliminate a ban on smokable medical marijuana and, if they don't comply, threatened to drop the state's appeal of a court ruling that found the prohibition ran afoul of a 2016 constitutional amendment.

DeSantis had suggested in recent weeks he would drop the appeal of a lower court ruling that determined that an implementing bill passed previous year by the Legislature banning the smoking of marijuana by patients violated the constitutional amendment. "That is not good policy, so I'd like them to address that as well".

"I want people to have their suffering relieved", DeSantis said at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Winter Park.

Florida alone has 210,000 patients, 80 percent of whom have an active medical marijuana card, claims the statistics published January 4 by the Florida Department of Health.

The Governor likens the current seed to sale structure to a drug cartel. It also created a licensing system for medical marijuana businesses that has been criticized as too restrictive.

Florida's requirement for growers to follow a seed to sale model was successfully challenged in court past year.

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. But if a plan is not developed by mid-March, DeSantis said he would drop the lawsuit.

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Regarding his trip to Israel, DeSantis said it would likely occur after the annual Legislative session in Tallahassee wraps up in May. The state Legislature then appealed that decision.

"Look, we've got a lot of fish to fry in Florida", DeSantis said. "I don't want to continue fighting some of these old battles".

An overwhelming number of Floridians, "about as big a majority as you can get in this day and age", wanted patients with debilitating conditions to have access to medical marijuana, under the supervision of physicians, the governor said. "The way they did this vertical integration, that is not free-market principles, for sure". "This law isn't up to snuff".

The open-ended request did not say when the issue would be resolved, but DeSantis gave the Legislature a relatively short period to address the matter after the 2019 session begins on March 5.

Galvano added that "many senators share these concerns and have ideas they are interested in advancing, which include smokable forms of treatment".

"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", House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes. The amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters, broadly legalized medical marijuana in the state.

Mimi Jankovits executive director of Teach Florida, a movement of Jewish schools, parents and community advocating for safe, strong and affordable nonpublic schools, said, "Teach Florida championed Jewish school security funding from the start in 2017, and applauds Gov. DeSantis' support of at least $2 million in funding". "Since this governor was elected, I've been incredibly encouraged". Jordan believes that smoking marijuana is a more effective way of treating her disease.