Florida House makes progress on medical marijuana bill

Florida House makes progress on medical marijuana bill
Florida House makes progress on medical marijuana bill
Author

06 May, 2017

The Florida House has overwhelmingly passed a bill setting out rules for medical marijuana that's much less restrictive than before, but the legislators are being picky about how patients take the substance. More than 71 percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

The Hawaii Senate killed a bill Tuesday that would have allowed the state to lease land in perpetuity. Conversely, the Senate's version of the bill would cultivate four new dispensary licenses - creating a total of eight medical marijuana dispensaries throughout Vermont. While it is not unusual to find significant differences between the House and Senate budget versions, it is unusual to find the strength of votes in the two bodies so complete. Under the Senate proposal (SB 406), health officials would have to grant five new licenses by October and more new licenses as the number of patients registered for the treatment increases, something also included in the House plan. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, said the changes were made in negotiations with the Senate and that "95 percent" of the bill represented negotiated positions.

Initially the proposal would not have allowed regulated and taxes sales, but was amended in the House to allow for a licensed system of cannabis retail outlets. Throughout this year's session the Senate position has been less restrictive, and not just when it comes to pain. Sen.

Viewers of TVW could be forgiven Tuesday if they thought the state's cable television station had gone into summer reruns, showing old debates they'd already watched.

"Would we rather have them use risky prescription drugs ... or would we prefer that they smoke a bowl and go to sleep and actually wake up the next morning?"

Florida House makes progress on medical marijuana bill
Florida House makes progress on medical marijuana bill

By allowing patients to use vaporizers or edibles but not to smoke marijuana products, the House is violating the spirit of Amendment 2, critics say. "That's not our business, members". Public use of full-strength medical marijuana remains a misdemeanor.

"Pollara has disappeared because some existing operators who give him funding want caps on existing retail locations", said one lobbyist who declined to go on the record. However, Sears said there could be a limited path forward with a separate bill. It would automatically give the potentially very lucrative license to the seven growers now licensed under a more limited cannabis program, plus 10 new growers right off the bat.

S.C. Speaker Jay Lucas has named House majority leader Gary Simrill, ways and means chairman Brian White and minority leader Todd Rutherford to represent his chamber during negotiations.

"The money, I believe, is inside the state budget", Caldara said.

Critics also worry that by capping the number of growers and distributors too strictly, the state will create cartels that will jack up prices and limit choices. "Patients will be driven to the black market". And that bill landed with a thud in a Republican-led Senate that has agreed that some reform needs to happen but seems largely uninterested in substantively hiking taxes on the industry.

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