A proposal filed by a South Florida lawmaker would give patients who are prescribed medical marijuana the option of smoking the cannabis.
State Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed a bill Thursday that would overturn the current ban on smoking the substance. The ban on smoking was included in legislation passed this summer implementing Amendment 2 that was approved by Florida voters in November 2016.
“Each and every legislator including myself swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the State of Florida,” Farmer said in a statement. “An overwhelming majority of voters ratified Amendment 2, and its intent could not be more clear: to allow for the use of medical marijuana, including smoking.”
Farmer says his legislation is especially necessary given the growing opioid crisis in Florida.
“Right now when a patient is faced with chronic pain and other pain inducing ailments, doctors have limited options available to them as to how to help provide relief for their patients. We need to make sure that our medical professionals are equipped with a full range of options to care for their patients’ needs, while not subjecting them to the horrifying possibilities that can result from the prescription of opioid-based medications,” Farmer added.
But Farmer’s bill will likely have a difficult time passing the Legislature when it goes into session in January. House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero Republican, says he can’t support changing the current law.
Orlando attorney John Morgan, who led the drive to pass Amendment 2, filed a lawsuit this summer in Leon County asking a circuit court judge to overturn the ban on smoking medical marijuana. Morgan charges lawmakers with violating the original intent of the amendment.
Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion last month asking the judge to dismiss the case claiming the amendment was broadly written and never specifically required that smoking cannabis be permitted.
“Had the framers or the voters intended to legalize smoking by adopting the amendment, they could have done so,” attorneys in Bondi’s office wrote.
In the motion, Bondi’s office claims lawmakers pointed to health reasons for approving the smoking ban.
“The Legislature considered several significant health-related factors and reasonably determined that the harms caused by smoking were ample reason to exclude smoking from the definition of `medical use,’ “ the motion said.
Those who support allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana likely stand a better chance of convincing the courts to overturn the ban than they do Florida lawmakers. Even if Farmer is able to get his bill passed in the Senate, it would stand a very long shot of passing the House.