Florida Governor Prohibits Use of Medical Marijuana in Recovery Facilities

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who is also a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has recently signed a bill into law that specifically forbids sober living facilities from allowing their residents to possess or use medical marijuana. This is irrespective of whether the patient has a doctor’s certification to legally use cannabis for therapeutic purposes under state law.

Governor DeSantis signed the legislation, SB 210, on Tuesday, and concurrently gave his final approval to another law that places regulations on hemp sales. All other pharmaceutical medications, as long as they’re prescribed by a doctor, are permitted in these facilities. Therefore, the new law particularly singles out medical marijuana.

As per the stipulations of the newly enacted SB 210, anyone seeking to acquire licensing to operate recovery residences under the state Department of Children and Families must attest that they will not permit the use of cannabis within their facility. This includes cannabis that a certified physician has legally approved for medical use.

To gain certification, an aspiring recovery residence needs to provide documentation that includes a policy and procedures manual. The recently signed law alters this requirement by necessitating that the manual explicitly outlines a ban on marijuana usage, irrespective of an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient.

In addition to this, Governor DeSantis also endorsed SB 1676, a bill that amends the existing hemp regulations in the state. This new law includes a provision that strictly prevents the sale of smokeless hemp products, like snuff, chewing gum, and other non-smokable items, to anyone under the age of 21. Previously, the law only applied an age restriction to smokable hemp products.

Moreover, the Governor vetoed two bills related to criminal justice reform. These were not specifically concerning cannabis, but they proposed revisions to the existing expungements and sentencing statutes.

This recent legislative action by Governor DeSantis has raised questions and concerns, particularly from advocates of medical marijuana and those who view it as an essential element of holistic recovery. Critics argue that this measure may hinder the path to recovery for some patients, who might have otherwise benefited from medical cannabis under a physician’s guidance. Conversely, proponents of the law argue it’s necessary for maintaining the integrity of the recovery process, particularly in light of increasing legalization and normalization of cannabis use.

These new laws underline the complex and evolving relationship between drug policy, rehabilitation efforts, and the growing acceptance of cannabis as a therapeutic substance. It also underscores the pressing need for a balanced and nuanced approach towards cannabis legislation, particularly in situations where its use intersects with other sensitive areas of public health and safety.

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