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Senate Marijuana Smoking Bill Rolls Along

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Julio Ochoa
The Florida Channel
A Senate proposal could allow patients to smoke medical marijuana with their doctor's approval.

A Senate proposal that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana is ready to go to the full Senate after the Rules Committee unanimously signed off on the measure Wednesday. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the Legislature until March 15 — 10 days after the 2019 session begins — to do away with Florida’s ban on smokable medical marijuana.

If legislators don’t address the issue by then, the governor threatened to drop the state’s appeal of a court ruling that said the ban violates a voter-approved constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.

The Senate proposal (SB 182), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, would allow patients over the age of 18 to smoke marijuana if their doctors decide it’s the best form of treatment. Patients younger than 18 would be banned from smoking, unless they are terminally ill and have a second opinion from a pediatrician supporting the treatment.

Under Brandes’ plan, medical marijuana dispensaries would have to sell at least one type of pre-rolled cigarette but could also sell other forms of whole-flower cannabis. Patients could purchase equipment from smoke shops or other retail locations.

While House Speaker José Oliva originally balked at allowing patients to smoke marijuana, the chamber has made a number of concessions in an attempt to reach consensus with the Senate.

A House proposal (HB 7015), which will be considered Thursday by the House Appropriations Committee, would limit dispensaries to selling pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes with filters, a provision intended to address health concerns about smoking.

Under the House plan, doctors would have to provide documentation supporting smoking marijuana if they order it for patients.