Joe Henderson: Medical marijuana move shows Tallahassee can make good decision
Missed opportunity? Ron DeSantis was very public in announcing his intentions on smokable medical marijuana but may have missed a PR opportunity when it was time to actually sign the bill. Image via Joey Roulette.

Mat Gaetz, John Morgan, Ron DeSantis
It’s too soon to say common sense is the wave of the future in the state capital; we can always hope.

Something rare happened Monday in Tallahassee. There was an outbreak of common sense when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the repeal of Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana.

We must note this, even though DeSantis’ move wasn’t a surprise. He said in January that, paraphrasing here, the ban made no sense.

Well, it didn’t.

DeSantis told lawmakers to repeal the ban, or he would do an end run. The Governor vowed to drop the state’s appeal of a court ruling that basically said the ban subverted a 2016 amendment legalizing marijuana.

Florida voters approved that amendment by a landslide 71 percent.

But old fuddy-duddy Florida lawmakers never met a voters’ will they couldn’t subvert. And thus a measure came through the Legislature that banned smoking the weed. Gov. Rick Scott signed it, of course.

Patients could use the drug in other forms, such as oils or candy, but inhaling the smoke was a toke too far.

This happens when self-righteous gasbags are put in charge of making laws. Medical marijuana advocates have long maintained that smoking is the best delivery system to get pain relief.

Patients with dreadful diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and PTSD say smoking the medical weed gives them relief from pain or debilitating symptoms. The state insisted on this charade of faux morality without regard to what it meant for the people who needed help.

For the people. Hmmm. Where have I heard that phrase before?

Yeah, it’s the slogan for powerhouse Orlando attorney John Morgan. He bankrolled the successful amendment drive and continued advocating for the state’s silly prohibition to be overturned.

He found an ally in DeSantis.

That may seem like an unlikely pairing, given that Morgan seriously considered running for Governor as a Democrat. He also endorsed Andrew Gillum, who ran against DeSantis. But maybe not no strange.

While no one will confuse DeSantis for being a closet liberal, the new Governor has shown a pragmatic streak since taking over in January. It’s refreshing, which may explain why his approval ratings are skyrocketing.

The state should have more important things on its plate than whether a terminally ill patient gets relief from smoking marijuana or chews a piece of candy. That was real reefer madness.

Republicans claim to embrace freedom and regulatory relief, but they’re the ones who came up with the absurd ban in the first place. The temptation to meddle in how people live their lives can be overwhelming for the holier-than-thou crowd.

There are details to be worked out, of course. And this medical marijuana victory was small in the big picture, but it was important.

It’s too soon to say common sense is the wave of the future in the state capital, but we can always hope.

Joe Henderson

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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704