TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill that repeals Florida's ban on use of smokable medical marijuana.
The Republican governor signed the measure Monday, the first bill he has approved since taking office. DeSantis also announced the state is dropping its previous appeal of court rulings that also would have ended the ban.
Last week, the Florida Legislature met DeSantis' deadline to hand him the bill to repeal the ban.
While lawmakers were not necessarily in favor of allowing medical marijuana to be smoked, they faced the prospects of having it become legal without any restrictions.
"This is a difficult issue, and you're going to have people on both sides; some that are happy that now this is available to them and others that feel that we didn't go far enough," House Speaker Jose Oliva said after the vote. "We did the best that we could do and still remain responsible."
Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but lawmakers banned smokable forms of the plant in a bill signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017. The state was sued over the issue and a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. Scott, now a Republican U.S. senator, appealed the ruling. DeSantis said in late January that the previous law did not represent the will of the voters and that he would drop the appeal if lawmakers didn't repeal the ban by mid-March.
Lawmakers quickly followed up on his ultimatum. The bill was the first to go to the governor in the 60-day legislative session that began last week and the only bill the House has considered at this point. The Senate passed the repeal six days earlier and the House passed it on a 101-11 vote without debate.
"I thank the Florida Legislature for taking action on medical marijuana and upholding the will of the voters," DeSantis said on Twitter.
The new law places several conditions on smokable medical marijuana. It will not be available to anyone under the age of 18 unless the patient is terminally ill and if two doctors, one of them a pediatrician, say it is the most effective form of treatment. It cannot be smoked in public or at private businesses subject to the state's cigarette smoking ban.
Under the law, private property owners have the right to prohibit it. Patients aren't able to possess more than four ounces of marijuana in a smokable form.
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