ClickOrlando wrotes: After more than an hour and a half of debate, senators voted 34-4 in favor of the bill that would allow patients to use smokable forms of the plant.
The Florida legislature is pushing the bill through after Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a January stop in Winter Park that the legislature needed to come up with a version of the bill that would allow smokable medical marijuana by March 15.
DeSantis said he would give Florida lawmakers a few weeks to resolve the issue, but would take action if they were not successful by mid-March.
“We’ll handle it and move on,” DeSantis said, hinting at the possibility of dismissing the appeals filed under his predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, that seeks to keep the ban in place.
The vote was one of the first actions the Senate took during the 60-day session that began Tuesday.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, who is the sponsor of Senate Bill 182, said this version of the bill complies with what voters wanted when they elected for the use of medical marijuana in November 2016.
“This legislation honors that, and honors that in a way that’s responsible,” Brandes said.
SB 182 includes the following on the medical use of marijuana:
- Up to 2.5 ounces can be purchased for a 35-day supply.
- Patients can posses up to 4 ounces at a time.
- Patients can get up to six months of supplies before getting a new prescription from physicians.
- Dispensaries can sell in flower form or pre-rolled cigarettes, no pipes.
- Pre-rolled cigarettes cannot have hemp or tobacco products.
However, some senators Thursday were reluctant about passing this bill saying they felt rushed.
“I believe it’s a gateway drug,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel, representing parts of Polk and Lake counties. “I think we need to take these things very seriously and I don’t like the position we are in today.”
Stargel went on to say on the senate floor however, that she was still going to vote yes, believing it was the will of the people who voted medical marijuana in as a constitutional amendment in November of 2016.
“For that, and given the situation we are in today, I think the responsible thing to do today is to vote for this bill,’ Stargel said.
Back in Orlando, Henry Porter, a retired ROTC teacher and Veteran Army Infantry Sergeant, was refilling his prescription at Trulieve. Currently, he’s using a small vape machine.
“It helps me relax, it helps with my depression, it helps me calm down, my back pain,” Porter said. “I had to actually hide and heal with my pain by making side deals, ‘hey man, I need a gram,’ and now that is over.”
He’s hoping the for the smoking ban to be repealed saying smoking the medicinal marijuana gives him the most relief.
“The flower give me more relief than the synthetic stuff,” he said.
Trulieve Orlando manager Amit Raninga said they are ready to sell medicinal cannabis in smoking form. They are just watching the legislature closely to see when they can.
“We are already to go, it’a a matter of when,” Raninga said. “People want the flower to be free, they want the stigma to go away and they want to really have their medicine available the way they believe it’s intended to do.”