New Florida Marijuana Laws Coming "Very Soon" Says Governor
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was sworn in as Florida’s new governor at the beginning of the year, said this week that changes to Florida marijuana laws will be coming “very soon”. The new governor of Florida says many voters believe the state has been “foot dragging” on determining marijuana legalization, particularly when it comes to the legality of smoking medical marijuana.
Changing Stance on Florida Marijuana Laws
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stance on cannabis laws is a complete 180 from that of former Florida governor and current Florida U.S. Senator Rick Scott. While Scott doesn’t want medical marijuana to be smoked, one of Gov. DeSantis chief advisers, John Morgan, has popularized the hashtag #NoSmokeIsAJoke and shared the editorial, “It's time to heed the will of the voters on medical marijuana,” on his feed today. But Gov. DeSantis administration is not alone in its vision for new Florida marijuana laws. More and more Florida lawmakers have begun to support marijuana legalization over the past few years than ever before.
The new Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nikki Fried, recently added a “Director of Cannabis” position to her department. U.S. Senate budget chief and Florida Senator Rob Bradley also echoed a similar sentiment to that share by Gov. DeSantis when he said on Twitter earlier this year, “Fix the pot law, Congress! Leave alone states with medical marijuana and take marijuana out of Schedule 1.”
Senator Rob Bradley claimed a day earlier that “Florida will grow to be a leader” in the emerging space of “research and data on medical marijuana.” He also expressed disappointment with the Florida Department of Health (DOH) for not yet having edible marijuana laws, hindering medical marijuana patients from accessing edibles.
Florida’s stance on marijuana legalization and cannabis laws has been shifting for some time now. Two years ago, on April 6, 2017, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz proposed a rescheduling measure to downgrade marijuana from schedule I to schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. The measure has three cosponsors and is now being reviewed by the Subcommittee on Health.
The following year, on April 26, 2018, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 to increase the number of manufacturers allowed to cultivate cannabis for research under the Controlled Substances Act and current marijuana laws. The measure currently has 30 cosponsors and is being examined by the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committees on the Judiciary and Veterans' Affairs.
Representatives Supporting Pro Florida Marijuana Laws
Below are just a few U.S. representatives from the Sunshine State who have a proven history of fighting for progressive Florida marijuana laws.
U.S. Representative Charlie Crist has a solid track record of advocating for the legalization of marijuana in Florida. His support for pro Florida marijuana laws was displayed when he invited a medical marijuana patient to be his State of the Union guest.
Florida Rep. Darren Michael Soto is another proponent of marijuana legalization. He even urged the federal government to recognize the “medical benefits of marijuana” in a Twitter post followed by the hashtag #CommonSenseCannabisReform.
Florida Rep. Carlos Smith is another supporter of decriminalizing cannabis. After the Pulse nightclub tragedy, Rep. Smith set his sites on reforming Florida marijuana laws and began advocating for the use of marijuana as a natural therapeutic treatment for PTSD.
Florida Rep. Tina Scott Polsky also said in a news interview that “we must respect the will of the voters” by making medical marijuana readily available and reforming current Florida marijuana laws. In a similar interview, Florida House of Representative David Silvers said that he’s “keen on the access to medical marijuana for patients,” citing the tremendous impact medical marijuana legalization has had on his aunt with advanced Multiple Sclerosis.
State vs. Federal Cannabis Laws
Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. On top of that, 10 states have voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. But marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. But this will soon change as many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe it’s time to take a second look at cannabis laws.
At his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr said, “to the extent people are complying” with the state marijuana laws, he doesn’t plan to “go after” or circumvent state laws and impose federal oversight on marijuana companies. He claimed it wouldn’t be right to pick and choose which issues states should have control over and which issues federal law should preside over.
After all, is it fair to say that states should have control over gun laws but the federal government should have authority over cannabis laws? Many would argue that the selective preemption of state and local authority is motivated by political aims. However, Barr said he believes it’s “incumbent on [U.S.] Congress to agree if we have a federal system or not” because the current mismatch with many state marijuana laws is ”breeding disrespect for federal law.”
Want to learn more about the intricacies of Florida marijuana laws, how to qualify as a medical marijuana patient, and what you need to get a MMJ card? Check out our article, "The 411 on the Florida Medical Marijuana Card".