Senate passes smokable medical marijuana bill

The bill now goes to the House.

The Senate overwhelmingly OK’d its version of legislation to allow smokable medical marijuana on Thursday, sending it to the House.

The measure (SB 182), carried by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, passed on a 34-4 vote. Four Republicans opposed the bill: Doug Broxson of Gulf Breeze, George Gainer of Panama City, Ed Hooper of Clearwater and Keith Perry of Gainesville.

Among other things, the Senate version allows “a 35-day supply of marijuana in a form for smoking” but not to “exceed 2.5 ounces unless an exception to this amount is approved” by the Department of Health.

Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who crafted what is now the state’s implementing law for medical marijuana, said it was time to move the medicinal cannabis smoking debate from Tallahassee to doctors’ offices around the state.

“It’s in your hands now,” Bradley said, referring to doctors during debate on the bill. “It’s medicine – treat it as such” and act in “your patient’s best interests … Take seriously your oath to do no harm.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis gave lawmakers until mid-March to rewrite the state’s medical marijuana law to reflect the intentions of the state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana that 71 percent of Florida voters approved in 2016, known then as Amendment 2.

If a bill doesn’t make it to his desk by then, he has said he’ll drop the state’s appeal of Circuit Judge Karen Gievers’ decision last year that allows smokable marijuana.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat, lamented that only minors with a terminal condition can smoke, but that’s actually what got Dennis Baxley‘s vote, he said.

The Ocala Republican and former House member – who has never voted for a marijuana-related bill in the Legislature – told Brandes he had won his support: “You’ve protected the children … and I support the bill.”

And Sen. Kelli Stargel voted for the measure despite acknowledging she doesn’t believe marijuana is medicine: “It’s a gateway drug,” she told the chamber. She quickly added that the “responsible” move, however, “is to vote for the bill.”

In his closing, Brandes mentioned the example of ALS patient Cathy Jordan, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that was before Gievers. Jordan was told she had five years to live, then smoked illegally after her diagnosis, and has now been living “for decades,” Brandes said.

It’s unclear what happens when the bill gets to the other side of the Capitol rotunda, though the restrictions on minors smoking may help it clear one hurdle.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the Estero Republican who’s the House’s point man on the legislation, recently said that “from the House perspective, the biggest sticking point is children.

“We don’t believe children should be smoking medical marijuana … but we’re having conversations.” Later Thursday, the House placed the bill on its “special order” calendar for next Wednesday.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Tired of Fuckery

    March 7, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    “It’s a gateway drug.” So dumb. I bet she never smoked weed.

Comments are closed.


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