Bill allowing smokable marijuana in Florida clears committee – with harsh restrictions

Florida
Medical Marijuana

FILE – This Sept. 15, 2009 file photo shows marijuana plants in Seattle. Patients treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics will be able to use medical marijuana in the 14 states where it’s legal, according to new federal guidelines. The directive from the Veterans Affairs Department in the coming week is intended to clarify […]

A bill that would lift Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana passed it’s first Senate committee stop Monday.

Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is the bill sponsor.

“The constitution does not allow the legislature to ban smoking. So this is allowing us to come up with a process for smoking,” said Brandes.

A court ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional. The state has been appealing that ruling, but Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’ll drop the appeal and let the ruling force the legislature’s hand if they don’t make the fix themselves by mid-March.

Lawmakers like Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell still have hesitations.

“Smoking itself, whether it is marijuana, whether it is cigarettes, has significant health risks,” said Harrell.

Republican Sen. Aaron Bean is especially worried when it comes to kids.

“It causes havoc on an adolescent brain,” said Bean.

As a safeguard, the Senate Health Committee tagged on an amendment that would require nonterminal patients sign a consent form acknowledging the risks of smoking. It would also require a second doctor’s opinion before smokable cannabis could be dispersed.

“To make sure that patients are truly informed about the risks,” said Harrell.

The amendment also limits the option of smoking to cases where a doctor has deemed it the only possible treatment.

Sen. Brandes says if his bill gets too bogged down with amendments that restrict access, he’ll simply pull it and let the governor drop the state’s appeal.

Brandes made it clear the newly amended bill was one he could not support, vowing to make severe changes going forward.

The Senate bill has two more committee stops before it would go to the Senate floor.

So far, no House bill has been filed. While that’s almost guaranteed to change, the legislation is expected to face even harsher scrutiny in the House than in the Senate.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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