TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Smoking medical marijuana in the state of Florida is another step closer to becoming reality.
The full Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would eliminate a ban on smoking medical marijuana in Florida.
The Senate voted 34-4 in favor of the bill that would allow patients to use smokable forms of the plant.
The vote was one of the first actions the Senate took during the 60-day session that began Tuesday.
“Whether they have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that?” said Dr. Herve Damas. “I want people to be able to have their suffering relieved.”
Dr. Damas knows suffering all too well.
His mother passed away from cancer and was prescribed opioids to curb her pain.
“She was in extreme pain or drooling,” he said. “That is no way, absolutely no way, for anyone to live out the rest of their days.”
After much research he’s found the plant to be more beneficial for his patients.
He acknowledges the stigmas surrounding the controversial drug, explaining why some people are opposed to using marijuana all together.
“They think this is the realm of losers, dope heads junkies, so that’s really hard to overcome,” Dr. Damas explained.
He also says there’s discomfort with the smell and some people don’t like smoking period.
All that aside, he says it’s better than taking other prescribed drugs that can become addictive.
“You can make yourself feel better in a more holistic, homeopathic sort of way without risk of life-threatening addiction,” he said.
Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but lawmakers banned smokable forms of the plant in a bill signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017.
The state was sued over the issue, and a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. Scott, now a Republican U.S. senator, appealed the ruling.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in January that the current law doesn’t represent the will of the voters. He said he’d drop the appeal if lawmakers didn’t repeal it.
The House will vote on its version of the bill next week.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)