Amid the swaying palms and sun-soaked beaches, Florida's Governor, Ron DeSantis, has made an exciting move. The controversial politician running for President signed off on a bill extending the joy of telehealth renewals for medical marijuana, and it doesn't stop there. He's also ensuring the cannabis farming party includes more Black farmers.
The bipartisan-supported bill, HB 387, had a roller-coaster ride in the legislature, with two separate issues hitching a ride on the same legislative train. Now it's finally chugged its way into law.
State Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, called it a "historic" day. It's a bit like DeSantis has thrown a beach party, invited everyone, and ensured medical marijuana's on the menu - all in line with what most Florida voters want.
Set your countdown timers, folks.
This law is hitting the ground running on July 1.
Despite the initial nail-biting suspense and speculation that DeSantis might pull the plug on the bill, the Governor's Office saw no game-stopping fouls. It's a win for that backing diversity as it responds to federal requirements that have existed since the pre-Y2K era (1999, to be exact).
Once upon a time, Florida's medical marijuana licensing program didn't exactly roll out the green carpet for minority farmers. But that's changing. This bill rectifies past mistakes, allowing all hopeful applicants to get their green thumb on licenses.
Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, is as pleased as a pelican with a fish. "It's a wonderful day that we have come to this point in the journey," he said, grateful that black farmers are finally being handed a fair shot at participating in the state's burgeoning cannabis industry.
The bill, a tag team effort between Rouson and Sen. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, addresses a long-standing process error. It's like Florida's stuck in a roundabout, and this bill finally takes the correct exit. Davis emphasized the bill is a step toward correcting a historical wrong.
And what's a party without guests? Existing farmers can even pass on access to licenses to their descendants, a little inheritance of opportunity.
Regarding the telehealth provisions, supporters were confident DeSantis would agree to let patients renew their medical marijuana prescriptions virtually. After all, he had allowed it during the COVID-19 pandemic and for counties impacted by Hurricane Ian.
The bill still requires an initial in-person check-up, but after that, renewals are given via the magic of the Internet or a simple phone call. But, just like any good party, there are rules - doctors who break them could face a two-year time-out.
So, thanks to Gov. DeSantis signing the law into effect, Florida is taking a bold stride towards revolutionizing medical cannabis consultations, with Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Lake Mary Republican, saying it establishes the Sunshine State as a "progressive leader in health care innovation."
And with that, the Cannabis Movement and desire to legalize federally continues, with many gaining hope in other states that they'll see similar actions.