House and Senate committees moved closer to legislation that would meet the directive issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month calling for the complete repeal of the state ban of smoking medical marijuana by patients,
A proposal to repeal the ban was approved by a House Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday. The House bill was amended to remove a provision that would have required patients to seek approval from a special review panel in order to legally smoke the marijuana.
The amended House bill would leave the decision to smoke medical marijuana in the hands of the patients and their doctors. and would appear to be more in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call for state lawmakers to reach agreement by March 15 on a bill that would completely repeal the smoking ban.
DeSantis has repeatedly said the ban defies the will of the voters who overwhelmingly adopted the measure in 2016 and wants the ban overturned. If legislators don’t meet the March 15 deadline, DeSantis has vowed to drop the state’s appeal of a court decision that ruled the ban on smoking medical marijuana is unconstitutional.
The Legislature enacted the smoking ban last year when it passed a bill to implement the medical marijuana amendment. House leaders had recently expressed some some concern about lifting the ban because of the health effects smoking the marijuana could have on a patient.
Just two weeks ago,House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, was critical of calls to lift the smoking ban.
“I’ve been in the smoke business my entire life and I’ve never heard anyone say it’s good for you,” said Oliva, a cigar company CEO. “ I think that’s a legitimate concern.”
The House plan adopted by the House Health and Human Services Committee would require medical marijuana dispensaries to sell the marijuana flower in pre-rolled cigarettes that must have a filter on them to reduce the health impacts of smoking the marijuana.
The bill also calls for the state to conduct research into the effects that smoking marijuana has on patients.
Supporters of allowing patients to smoke marijuana applauded the committee for amending the House plan.even with the requirement that marijuana cigarettes must contain filters.
“I am so grateful that you guys are opening your minds to allowing patients to have access as we develop great science in the state of Florida that can help your peers in two or three years to make better decisions,” said Joni James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, addressing the committee. “Thanks for the commitment to getting this right.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, a Senate committee stripped language from its plan that would have required approval of two doctors before a patient would be given the right to smoke medical marijuana. The Senate plan also doesn’t limit smokable marijuana to pre-rolled, filtered cigarettes.