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DeSantis Pushes To End Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

Abe Aboraya
Matt Goetz (middle) introduces John Morgan (on left) during a press conference announcing changes to the handling of the smoking ban on medical marijuana. Gov. Ron DeSantis (on right) said he would like to see lawmakers make changes.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will push to end a state ban on smoking medical marijuana in Florida.

DeSantis said at a press conference in Winter Park that he would be willing to abandon multiple lawsuits that have limited patients access to medical marijuana. For now, DeSantis said he would issue a stay on an appeal against a court decision that the smoking ban was unconstitutional.

This gives lawmakers time to prepare a “law as the people intended,” DeSantis said. But if a plan is not developed by mid-March, DeSantis said he would drop the lawsuit.

The smoking ban was included in a 2017 law that implemented the constitutional amendment. The law also capped the number of medical-marijuana licenses and the number of dispensaries in the state. Court decisions in other lawsuits also ruled those limitations were in conflict with the amendment.

DeSantis said he is willing to drop a majority, if not all, of the lawsuits that were holding up the implementation of the medical marijuana amendment.

“This thing passed over two years ago,” he said. “We need to have the peoples’ will represented in good law that is doing what they intended.

A circuit court judge ruled in May that the smoking ban is unconstitutional, but then-Gov. Rick Scott appealed the decision. DeSantis replaced fellow Republican Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, earlier this month.

DeSantis also said he wants the amended law to address licensing limits that are also subjects of lawsuits.

"They created a cartel, essentially," he said. "That is not good policy, so I'd like them to address that as well."

“We have a lot of fish to fry in Florida,” DeSantis said. “The last thing that I want to be doing is cleaning up for something that should have been done two years ago.”

Legislative leaders have weighed in on DeSantis’ decision showing early optimism that a solution is possible.

“A legislative solution has always been my preferred course of action, and we will certainly honor the Governor’s request to bring a bill forward early in session that addresses both his concerns and those raised in litigation,” wrote Senate President Bill Galvano. “Many Senators share these concerns and have ideas they are interested in advancing, which include smokable forms of treatment. I look forward to continuing those important discussions in the coming weeks.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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