WINTER PARK, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Patients with debillatating diseases, could be allowed to smoke medical marijana legally in Florida, as soon as March.
Newly sworn-in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing to end a state ban on smokable medical marijuana.
He announced Thursday in Winter Park that he is asking the Florida Legislature to repeal a provision in the state's medical marijuana law that prohibits smokable forms of the plant.
"I’m announcing today is the lawsuit that’s challenging the smoking ban, we’re going to be filing a stay of decision on that till mid-March," the governor said.
If it doesn't do so by mid-March, he said he will drop the appeal filed under his predecessor, now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, that seeks to keep the ban in place.
In 2016, more than 71 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing medical use of marijuana. Since then, the Republican-dominated Legislature has been criticized for the way it's implemented the amendment in state law.
DeSantis said the current law doesn't reflect the will of voters and that it's not up to him what form of marijuana patients use to treat debilitating illnesses.
"This thing should have been implemented, we should have moved on, and I don’t want to continue fighting some of these old battles," DeSantis added. "I think we’re going to see something by mid-March so either the legislature will reform the new law, written a new law a law that’s consistent with the amendment calls for or we’re gonna dismiss the lawsuit."
"I was the principal architect of our state’s medical marijuana laws and I am here to confess that those laws need to change," said Panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz.
When asked whether federal laws against medical marijuana should be changed, DeSantis replied, "I think Congress should address this, but I’m confident that given other states that have gone down this road, anyone who’s acting pursuant by the Florida Constitution is not gonna be harmed by the Department of Justice. We don’t’ want to see people suffering with these conditions, so it's very clear in the amendment and what it’s for."
Prominent Florida attorney John Morgan, a medical cannabis advocate, joined Gov. DeSantis and other Republicans at the news conference and was pleased with the announcement.
"I’m happy!," he said. "The people of Florida should be happy!"
The governor has made it clear that he is against using recreational marijuana. Morgan said, for the time being, he won't be pushing the issue.
This story was contributed to by the Associated Press.