Florida Legislators To Take Up Medical Marijuana During Special Three-Day Session
By Allison Nielsen, Sunshine State News // June 8, 2017
seeking expanded use of medical marijuana
ABOVE VIDEO: As questions linger on how Florida will regulate the medical marijuana industry, Katie LaGrone of ABC Action News takes you behind-the-scenes and beneath the soil to show you how one company is cultivating legal cannabis.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Florida lawmakers will officially take up medical marijuana during this week’s three-day special session.
On Wednesday, Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, announced he would file legislation to implement Amendment 2, which expands the use of medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
Bradley was the primary sponsor of the Senate’s original legislation to regulate medical cannabis during this year’s legislative session.
“Our constitutional duty is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana in the manner prescribed by Florida voters,” said Senator Bradley.
“This patient-first legislation will expand access to this medicine, while ensuring safety through a unified regulatory structure for each component of the process from cultivation to consumption.”
Bradley said the bill would increase the number of medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs), a position consistent with the Senate’s previous bill.
Sources close to the process told Sunshine State News the legislation would cap MMTCs at 25 retail facilities, which would include a grandfathering provision for existing stores and leaseholds.
TruLieve, one of the original seven growers, has 28 retail facilities.
The issue of retail caps was one of contention last month — and ultimately the straw that broke the camel’s back and killed the bill.
State legislators seemed well on their way to passing legislation to regulate the drug during this year’s legislative session, but reached an impasse over the number of retail facilities MMTCs should be allowed to open.
House bill sponsor, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, initially proposed an unlimited number of retail facilities, but when the Senate wouldn’t bite, changed his tune and then proposed upping the number to 100 dispensaries.
The Senate said that number was too high.
With no agreement in sight, the legislation died, and legislators went home last month with no agreement on the issue.
On top of increasing MMTcs, Bradley’s bill will “enhance research opportunities” and would allow scientists and physicians to study medical cannabis.
Bradley’s original bill provided money for a coalition for medical marijuana research through Tampa’s H. Lee Moffitt Center and Research Institute, one of the top medical research centers in the state.
What’s unknown at the present moment is how patients will be able to use the drug.
Previous versions of the bills to regulate medical marijuana provided for edibles, capsules and THC oil, but did not allow smoking.
ABOVE VIDEO: Orlando attorney John Morgan calls for a Special Session on medical marijuana.
Supporters of Amendment 2 sharply criticized the prohibition of smoking medical cannabis.
“I don’t know what their problem is with smoke but that’s clearly the intent of the amendment,” Orlando attorney John Morgan, who crafted the Amendment, told Sunshine State News Tuesday.
Morgan said if smoking isn’t part of the bill, he was fully prepared to sue the state legislature over the matter.
“I will sue them to allow medical marijuana to be smoked,” he said. “It’s a bunch of people [in Tallahassee] who don’t understand what they don’t understand. When you’re dying the last thing you care about is the smoke from marijuana.”
Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who was said to be hesitant over medical marijuana, said Bradley’s bill demonstrated legislators’ commitment to the will of Florida voters.
“The bill will also further the work the Legislature has done over the past few years to pass legislation authorizing the medical use of marijuana and other developing medications for our fellow citizens who are suffering from serious medical conditions and illnesses,” he said.
Bradley’s legislation will be filed Wednesday afternoon, the first day of the three-day special session.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.
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