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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.

Why?

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.”

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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.

Period.

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.

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