Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has signed a bill that expressly prohibits sober living facilities from allowing residents to possess or use medical marijuana, even if the patient is certified by a doctor to legally use cannabis therapeutically in accordance with state law. All other doctor-prescribed pharmaceutical medications may be permitted, however.
The governor signed the legislation, SB 210, on Tuesday—and he separately gave final approval to a hemp regulations measure that bans the sale of legal smokeless hemp products to people under 21.
Under the newly enacted SB 210, applicants who are seeking licensing to operate recovery residences under the state Department of Children and Families will need to affirm that they do not permit the use of cannabis, which “includes marijuana that has been certified by a qualified physician for medical use.”
But residents may continue to use other pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by doctors, so the law explicitly singles out medical marijuana.
In order to receive certification, a prospective recovery residence will need to provide documentation, including a policy and procedures manual. The new law will amend that requirement to specifically mandate that the manual includes a prohibition on marijuana, regardless of a person’s status as a medical cannabis patient.
DeSantis also signed SB 1676, a bill that revises hemp regulations in the state and includes a new provision that bars the sale of smokeless hemp products such as “snuff, chewing gum, and other smokeless products” to people under 21. The law previously only set the age restriction on smokable hemp items.
The governor further vetoed two criminal justice reform bills that aren’t specifically about cannabis. They would have revised expungements and sentencing statutes.
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The governor did separately sign legislation this month that allows doctors to renew medical cannabis recommendations to patients via telehealth and also takes steps to promote participation in the state’s medical marijuana program by Black farmers.
DeSantis’s marijuana policy comments and actions have come under the spotlight since he entered the race—and especially since he said recently that he would not decriminalize cannabis if he’s elected to the White House.
He argued, among other things, that marijuana use hurts the workforce, inhibits productivity and could even lead to death if contaminated. The position has earned him criticism, including by Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
DeSantis also talked about Florida’s medical marijuana program that was enacted by voters, saying military veterans are “actually allowed access” to cannabis under that model. But he said the issue is “controversial because obviously there’s some people that abuse it and are using it recreationally.”
Several Republican 2024 presidential hopefuls have also addressed drug policy issues in recent weeks.
For example, former President Donald Trump seemed confused during a recent interview when he was confronted with the fact that his proposed plan to impose the death penalty on drug traffickers would have condemned a woman he pardoned and promoted as an example of a key criminal justice reform achievement during his administration.
At a CNN town hall event this month, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said that he would “end” the war on drugs if elected, emphasizing the need for a treatment-based approach to people experiencing addiction—while at the same time maintaining that he’d seek to increase enforcement against those who sell drugs.