Lawyers representing both sides in a lawsuit over the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana have asked an appeals court to put the case on hold while they work out an agreement.
The notice was filed at the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday gave the Legislature until “mid-March” to repeal the ban, saying he would dismiss the appeal if lawmakers don’t act.
A Leon County circuit judge last year agreed with patients and other plaintiffs that the smoking ban ran afoul of a 2016 constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.
Former Gov. Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, and his administration appealed the ruling, but his successor, DeSantis, said he believes patients should be allowed to smoke the cannabis treatment if their doctors order it.
In the joint motion to hold the case in abeyance filed late Thursday, lawyers for the Florida Department of Health and the plaintiffs wrote that the parties “currently are discussing the possibility of resolving this matter and believe there is a reasonable prospect that their discussions will result in a resolution.”
The open-ended request did not say when the issue would be resolved, but DeSantis gave the Legislature a relatively short period to address the matter after the 2019 session begins on March 5.
House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, and Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, indicated they would comply with the governor’s request. DeSantis said a 2017 law that included the smoking ban failed to properly implement the amendment, which the governor said voters supported because they wanted patients with debilitating conditions to have access to medical marijuana.
“Whether they have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that? I want people to be able to have their suffering relieved. I don’t think this law is up to snuff,” he said Thursday.