Republican lawmaker Ron DeSantis recently took office as the new governor of Florida. But he’s already looking to shake things up with the state’s medical marijuana program. In particular, he said he is prepared to put an end to a drawn-out debate about whether or not smokable marijuana should be allowed. And for now, it looks like the governor will come down on the side of allowing patients to access smokable medical marijuana.
Governor DeSantis’ New Announcement
News of the governor’s position came from comments he made earlier today at a press conference. Although the event was primarily about his decision to name Robert J. Luck to the Florida Supreme Court, DeSantis also talked about medical marijuana.
Importantly, the new governor appeared to break from his predecessor, Rick Scott. In particular, DeSantis voiced a different take on the issue of smokable forms of medical marijuana.
Where Scott’s administration was essentially pushing for the state to ban smokable medical marijuana, DeSantis said he is ready to move in a different direction.
In today’s press conference, DeSantis said he will drop an ongoing court appeal, effectively paving the way for the state to allow patients to access smokable medical marijuana.
“I think a lot of voters . . . think there’s been a lot of foot-dragging,” DeSantis told reporters earlier today, according to local news sources. “So my job is, when the people speak, you have to listen. This was not an amendment that was really that close. It was like 72 percent.”
Already, DeSantis’ decision was met with praise with other key leaders in the state. In particular, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz reportedly praised the new governor’s statement.
“I personally think the fight over smoking is silly,” Gaetz said. “I also know Gov. DeSantis to feel duty-bound to execute the will of the people.”
Florida’s Ongoing Medical Marijuana Drama
If Gov. DeSantis is able to navigate the state through the smokable marijuana debate, it could help end Florida’s ongoing medical marijuana drama.
The whole thing started in 2016. That year, voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.
And, importantly, it was a big win. In fact, a full 71 percent of all voters said yes to legalizing cannabis for medical uses. However, a short time later, lawmakers in the state began moving to make a series of changes.
Most controversial was a proposed ban on smokable marijuana. Additionally, these changes also introduced limits on the number of dispensaries that could be approved to operate in Florida.
From there, tensions grew when the state was sued for attempting to push through those limitations. However, a Florida judge eventually ruled that the smoking ban was unconstitutional.
But even that decision wasn’t the end of the story.
Shortly after the court ruling, former Governor Rick Scott’s administration appealed the court’s decision. The appeal was essentially an effort to ram through the smoking ban—even though such a ban was not included in the initial amendment.
But now, all the drama could be coming to a close. With Gov. DeSantis seemingly on board with smokable forms of medical marijuana, the debate might be over soon.