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Florida lifts ban to let patients smoke medical marijuana

By
Darryl Coote
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill lifting a ban on the smoking of marijuana for medicinal purposes. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill lifting a ban on the smoking of marijuana for medicinal purposes. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

March 19 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill to lift the state's ban on smoking medical marijuana and filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged the ban.

Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in 2016, which legalized medical marijuana for patients with specific diseases and conditions.

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A 2017 bill enacted by former Gov. Rick Scott expanded what methods patients could use marijuana but banned smoking it. That drew a legal challenge from advocacy group People United for Medical Marijuana.

After taking office in January, DeSantis made it a priority to end the ban.

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"Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016," DeSantis said in a statement Monday. "Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state's appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional."

DeSantis had given lawmakers until the middle of March to repeal the ban.

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Florida agriculture and consumer chief Nikki Fried called the bill "a landmark victory" for Florida patients.

"It's a triumph owed to the relentless advocacy of Floridians who refused to be silenced," she said. "Our state must not disregard the voice of its people.

Fried said the decision on how a patient should administer any drug should be left to medical professionals.

The lifting of the ban took effect immediately, but patients will have to wait for Florida's Health Department to approve new guides for doctors, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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