Gov. DeSantis: Floridians should be able to smoke medical marijuana

'He's listened to the will of the people, 71 percent' attorney John Morgan says

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday addressed problems implementing an amendment to legalize medical marijuana during a stop in Winter Park.

The governor and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez were accompanied by Orlando attorney and medical marijuana advocate John Morgan at the Kraft Azalea Garden to address several lawsuits regarding Floridians' ability to smoke medical pot.

"Whether they have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge?" DeSantis said, adding that the amendment, which received 71 percent approval, was meant to help people with serious medical issues.

Morgan backed the 2016 constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Morgan has been critical that Floridians sill cannot smoke marijuana. Several groups are suing the state, including Morgan's lawsuit filed in July 2017 on behalf of patients and two advocacy organizations.

In May 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled a state’s ban on smokable cannabis is unconstitutional. The Florida’s Department of Health appealed the ruling.

DeSantis said he would give Florida lawmakers a few weeks to resolve the issue, but if they were unsuccessful by Mid-March, he said "we'll handle it and move on," possibly dismissing the appeals filed under his his predecessor, now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, that seeks to keep the ban in place.

"Folks voted for something, and we have to deliver what they voted for," DeSantis said.

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano said the Senate will honor the governor's request.

"A legislative solution has always been my preferred course of action," Galvano said. "Many Senators share these concerns and have ideas they are interested in advancing, which include smokable forms of treatment. I look forward to continuing those important discussions in the coming weeks.” 

The governor said he consulted Morgan because of his role in spear-heading the campaign behind the 2016 amendment.

"That was really a major victory there," he said. "There was no real justification to drag our heels."

Morgan applauded the governor for listening to the will of the people.

The announcement comes as DeSantis hit the ground running in his first full week as Florida's 46th governor.

The new governor suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office for his handling of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, announced a $2.5 billion plan to clean up Florida's waterways and picked two judges to become Florida's next Supreme Court justices.

On Friday, DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet members granted posthumous pardons for the four African-American men, known as the Groveland Four, who were accused of raping a white woman almost 70 years ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.