Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Restricting Medical Marijuana Use in Sober Living Homes

In a move that has stirred controversy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, recently signed a bill that imposes strict limitations on the use of medical marijuana in sober living facilities.

The legislation, known as SB 210, prohibits residents from possessing or using medical marijuana, even if they have received certification from a doctor to legally use cannabis for therapeutic purposes in accordance with state law. Notably, the new law permits the use of other doctor-prescribed medications.

DeSantis signed the bill into law on the same day he gave final approval of hemp regulation measures that includes a prohibition on selling legal smokeless hemp products to individuals under 21.

New Senate Bills Requires Proof Cannabis Is Not Used

Under provisions of SB 210, those applying for licenses to operate recovery residences under the state Department of Children and Families will be required to confirm that they do not allow the use of cannabis, even if a physician approves its use.

To obtain certification, prospective recovery residences must provide thorough documentation, including a policy and procedures manual. The new law amends this requirement by mandating that the manual explicitly prohibits the use of marijuana, irrespective of an individual’s status as a medical cannabis patient.

This development has sparked a debate around the rights of individuals who rely on medical marijuana and their access to care within sober living environments. Critics argue that singling out medical marijuana contradicts the state’s efforts to expand access to alternative treatments and disregards the rights of patients who have valid certifications from medical professionals

Proponents of the bill, on the other hand, contend that the restrictions are necessary to ensure the integrity of recovery residences and to prevent potential abuses or violations of federal laws regarding marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.

DeSantis Also Says He Will Not Decriminalize Cannabis

Even as he prepared to sign the new law, DeSantis also said on the campaign train in Augusta, S.C., that if elected president he will not decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. He addressed the question after an audience member raised the issue.

“I don’t think we would do that,” DeSantis said. “But what I have done in Florida is we have a medical program through our constitution that the voters did. Veterans in those situations in Florida are actually allowed access – it’s very controversial because obviously there are some people that abuse it and are using it recreationally.”

Christopher Cano, who sits on NORML’s Board of Directors, told Forbes that if DeSantis becomes president, any movement on federal cannabis law reform would become “nonexistent.”

“Ron DeSantis has been governor of Florida, going on five years now,” Cano, who also is executive director for Suncoast NORML in Florida, said. “And in that time, the only advances we’ve seen in our own medical system was him signing an executive order allowing for smokable flower.”

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