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Joe Henderson: Florida needs to stop fight against smoking medical marijuana

By now, Florida lawmakers surely realize continuing to fight the expansion of medical marijuana is reefer madness.

Gov. Ron DeSantis apparently is in that camp. He is ready to stop the state’s legal battle to keep patients from smoking prescribed medical weed. Is that actual common sense coming out of Tallahassee? Sure sounded like it.

Some fights are worth waging. This isn’t one of them.

A constitutional amendment in 2016 legalized medical marijuana if it is recommended by a licensed physician. About 72 percent of Florida voters were in favor.

Power to the people, right?

Not exactly. The state dithered, stalled and threw up roadblocks basically ever since. Most noteworthy was the nutty prohibition against smoking the weed. Patients could only get the relief they sought through edibles and vaping — but not smoking.


Because former Gov. Rick Scott and former Attorney General Pam Bondi didn’t like the law, no matter how many people voted in favor. They never said that out loud, of course. But their actions spoke clearly.

They were fighting the wrong war. This isn’t the same as smoking cigarettes in a public place. This is medicine and advocates say the best delivery system is smoke.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Karen Gievers last May ruled the state’s smoking ban was unconstitutional, even writing the continued legal battle had “no likelihood of success.”


The state appealed that, of course, which triggered an automatic hold. A three-judge panel has been considering that argument this week.

If the panel rules against the state, that should be the end of this issue.


New Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is already on record that DeSantis should cease the battle.

“I think that so many of our patients are needing medical marijuana in all of its forms, and that’s in its purest form,” Fried told reporters this week.

Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Núñez told the News Service of Florida DeSantis also might pull the state out of a lawsuit that caps the number of companies that can be involved in marijuana sales.

“I think he has a different perspective than Gov. Scott. I think he wants the will of the voters to be implemented,” Nuñez said.

Florida people use medical marijuana to combat severe pain, seizures, and diseases like Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and various cancers.

They believe it is helping.

In his inauguration speech, DeSantis reaffirmed his belief, “That government’s role is not to run our lives for us …”

That’s just what the previous administration was doing.

DeSantis would be right to stop it.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.



  1. Karen

    January 10, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Why are Florida lawmakers capitulating to silly irresponsible, selfish & ignorant young people ? Legalizing recreational Marijuana is a bad idea! Why don’t these people understand that every drug even aspirin has serious & long term side effects! Marijuana has been proven to cause long lasting debilitating brain deterioration! Society ie. taxpayers are looking at supporting millions of brain dead people before long!

  2. Thomas

    January 11, 2019 at 12:03 am

    That is exactly why I sent him this email.

    First off I would like to congratulate you for being elected to our great state! This email is going to be on the topic on the unconstitutional implementation of ammendment 2 regarding the smokeable use of medical marijuana.
    Florida Department of Health; Celeste Philip, M.D., in her official capacity as Secretary of Health for the State of Florida; Office of Medical Marijuana Use; and Christian Bax, in
    People United for Medical Marijuana; Florida for Care, Inc.; Diana Dodson; and Catherine Jordan.

    As you know the will of the 71% of voters voted yes to this. I was one of them. Under the Scott administration we saw continued attempts to block any attempts to make patient’s access easier and more cost efficient as the dispensaries would not have to package the medicine to the same extent, I am sure Nikki Freed already brought some of this to your attention. I urge you as your constituent and a medical marijuana patient to help guide the courts to implement the will of the voters. I have been watching you on the florida channel and heard that you would have more information about the direction your office plans to take but have heard the same from you while on the campaign trail. Please help us with obtaining more cost efficient delivery methods.

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