Jeff Brandes files medical marijuana implementing bill - Florida Politics

Jeff Brandes files medical marijuana implementing bill

medical marijuana

Sen. Jeff Brandes wants a total overhaul of the state’s medical marijuana laws, filing legislation to repeal current law dealing with low-THC cannabis and replace it with a new regulatory system.

The St. Petersburg Republican filed the legislation (SB 614) Wednesday. A long-time critic of the current medical marijuana system, Brandes’ bill has the potential to open up the market beyond the seven dispensing organizations under law.

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“The overwhelming support of Amendment 2 was a strong mandate that Floridians demand fundamental change to the way we regulate medical marijuana,” said Brandes in a statement. “The laws on the books today promote a state-sanctioned cartel system that limits competition, inhibits access, and results in higher prices for patients. This legislation outright repeals Florida’s defective law.”

Under the proposal, vertical integration of medical marijuana treatment centers is not required. Instead, the bill creates four different function licenses — cultivation, processing, transportation, and retail — that a medical marijuana treatment center can obtain. The bill allows treatment centers to get any combination of licenses. That’s a departure from current law, which requires dispensing organizations, similar to a medical marijuana treatment center, to grow, process and sell their own product.

“Florida should focus on what is best for patients,” he said. “The state today artificially limits the number of marijuana providers, promoting regional monopolies and standing in the way of the physician-patient relationship. This legislation removes those barriers, and will provide expanded access to Floridians who could benefit from the use of these products.”

The cultivation license would allow a license holder to grow and harvest marijuana; while a processing license would allow the permit holder to convert marijuana into a medical marijuana product, like oils, creams and food products, for qualifying patients.

Medical marijuana treatment centers with a transportation license would be allowed to deliver products to other treatment centers. It also allows centers to deliver the product directly to qualified patients, which the proposal states may not be restricted by local jurisdictions.

The proposal restricts retail facilities to 1 license per 25,000 residents. It allows local governments to regulate zoning and safety standards, and allows local governments to prohibit stores from opening up in their community. More than 50 cities across the state already have a zoning moratorium in place banning or restricting dispensaries.

Beyond getting rid of vertical integration, Brandes’ bill opens the door for future growth by removing current requirements, like how long a company needs to be in business or how much of the product they can grow.

“Senator Brandes’ implementing bill does an excellent job of establishing a comprehensive, tightly regulated medical marijuana system in Florida. SB 614 respects both the language of the constitution and the mandate that voters delivered on this issue,” said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for the United for Care campaign, which backed the medical marijuana constitutional amendment. “The two most essential pieces of implementation are maintaining the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship, and expanding the marketplace to serve patient access. SB 614 does both in a well regulated, well thought out manner.”

Brandes is the second Senate Republican in recent weeks to file a bill focused on implementing Amendment 2, the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment.Last month, Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill that would, among other things, allow for the growth of medical marijuana treatment centers once the number of registered patients hits a certain number.

Under his proposal, the Department of Health is required register five more medical marijuana treatment centers within six months of 250,000 qualified patients registering with the compassionate use registry. It then allows for more five more treatment centers to receive licenses after the 350,000 qualified patients, 400,000 qualified patients, 500,000 qualified patients, and after each additional 100,000 qualified patients register with the state’s compassionate use registry.

The Department of Health also initiated the process of creating rules and regulations governing Amendment 2 in January. The department has until July to put rules in place to implement Amendment 2, which passed with overwhelming support in November.

Under preliminary rules, medical marijuana treatment centers — which under new rules would be the same as a dispensing organization, must go through the same “approval and selection process” outlined in existing law. Those organizations are also “subject to the same limitations and operational requirements” currently outlined in state law.

A spokeswoman for the health department said in an email last month that agency looks forward to “receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rulemaking process.”

Brandes’ bill also:

— Adds paraplegia, quadriplegia, and terminal conditions to the list of debilitating medical conditions as adopted as part of Amendment 2;

— Establishes criteria for caregivers and requires the background screening of caregivers;

— Restricts patients and caregivers from cultivating their own marijuana, and requires patients obtain marijuana from registered medical marijuana treatment centers;

— Grandfathers in existing dispensing organizations; and

— Applies a sales tax to the sales of marijuana and medical marijuana products.

If Brandes’ proposal makes headway in the Senate, that sales tax issue could run into some trouble in the House. While a House bill hasn’t been filed yet, Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, who is expected to carry the bill, has said the House version won’t include a tax on medical marijuana products.



  1. From the bill, ” Restricts patients and caregivers from cultivating their own marijuana, and requires patients obtain marijuana from registered medical marijuana treatment centers;”
    I believe it should be illegal to prevent a patient or caregivers from cultivating their own cannabis for their personal use. The only reason for this “restriction” is for someone else’s profits. It certainty does not help the patient or caregivers.

    1. I agree, there are many good reasons to allow patients or their caregiver to cultivate, not the least of which is cost and ease of access. To prohibit that is not in the best interest of those who this law is supposed to benefit. People before profits!

      1. I completely agree with you Amanda. People VOTERS before politics. How can the Department of Health Office of Compassionate Use… call themselves COMPASSIONATE use??? They have no compassion for us patients. The patients that need it most live on limited income. I am a Patient Consultant for Central Florida people. I am helping others become medical marijuana patients through affordable doctors, educating the public, and trying to raise money to help all of the patients that come to me for help paying for their medicine. Our government just does not get it, well no I’m sure by now they get it… they just don’t care. This NEEDS to be carved into their HEADS that the patients who need medical marijuana the most need it to be affordable!!!! I’ve helped a few 100 people become a legal medical marijuana patient and by my sending them to an affordable certified doctor they are so thrilled and happy that I refer them to a doctor they can afford… BUT as soon as I tell patients how much the medicine will cost them every 45 days they say OMG I can’t afford that!!! And ask me what now???? What do I tell them? I tell them to just get the amount you can afford and maybe SOON we will be able to help you financially with the cost in the near future. Through my patient consulting business I have products I sell to make money and I have a DONATE button on my website so people who can afford to donate to help others. All of the money earned and donated is used to pay for my business expenses, my medicine, and most importantly, to help me to help patients financially with the cost of their medicine. I have partnered with a non profit organization. There is a great NEED for businesses like mine. Patients NEED HELP. Period

  2. You don’t have to tax us if you make us spend $1,000 in medical bills at doctors office to even be approved! As a 100%. Disable vet we can’t afford this! I’ll just take the black market instead of having all the political people and their kin run a closed get rich quick BS on our nickel! This is not what the 72% voted for! I’ll grow my own and move out of the state.

  3. Yea the rule where caregivers and patients cannot grow their old is a stale dumb rule. We should take our cues from Michigan at minimum if we want to compare the medical side of the argument. Patients or caregiver should be able to grow up to 6 plants in the flower stage and maybe 12 tops. Because obviously u have to have some clones going for the next cycle if u want to preserve the type of treatment each strain and their hybrid strain gives in relative to what u want to treat. For example… Indicas are Much better for pain, anxiety, sleeplessness than Sativa. So if u wanted to treat those ailments and still want to keep your option open for others u have to have variety. Anyways I hope they revise this to make it more in line with other state’s medical laws.

  4. Several things I do NOT like about this bill. One major thing is “Restricts patients and caregivers from cultivating their own marijuana, and requires patients obtain marijuana from registered medical marijuana treatment centers” This alone has NOTHING to do with the DOH Office of Compassionate Use. Where is the compassion? Most patients are on limited income (SSD) and cannot afford their medicine. It would be a whole lot cheaper if patients and caregivers could GROW for personal use and make their own medicine. It’s NOT that difficult. There are recipes everywhere about how to make your own edibles, oils, and so much more. IF patients can grow like a tomato and vegetables in a garden then it would be so much more AFFORDABLE for them to medicate. I am a “Patient Consultant” here in Central Florida helping new patients find AFFORDABLE certified doctors, getting them started, and educating and advising them. I am doing a lot more and talk to many patients DAILY, MOST of them can afford the doctors I am referring them too BUT they have NO CLUE as to HOW they are going to afford their medicine. THIS is MY AREA, I am COMPASSIONATE and care about the people I am helping. It’s time our local government and legislators SHOW SOME COMPASSION. STOP worrying about the money and start worrying about the PATIENTS who can and will BENEFIT from medical marijuana. AND remember medical marijuana is HELPING many patients CUT DOWN on opiate use and some are quitting opiates altogether if they can use medical marijuana. I’ve been working in this industry for several years, I KNOW what patients NEED. I am a patient myself and I will CONTINUE to help others for the rest of my life.

  5. It should not be taxed. Patients should be able to provide their own product. Then they know exactly what they are taking. I would not trust an industrial grow. One infestation and the product is contaminated. You can be sure they would break out the chemical weapons to save their profits and to the detriment of patients. No thanks.

  6. It looks like the pill mills all over again. Cash money to see a doctor and cash money to buy the meds. The only difference is pot won’t kill us.

  7. I can’t understand why they are trying to charge so much for something as inexpensive as marijuana. I’ve been prescribed opiates for several years and I honestly hate taking it, but I have no other options available. A bottle of 120 count 10mg oxycodone is $33 which is a months supply. It’s terrible for your health but the politicians don’t seem to care. I would much rather use marijuana than opiates which will send you to an early grave. When I voted for marijuana to be legalized for medical reasons, I honestly had no idea how long the process would take let alone the cost. The legal process regarding this is extremely unfortunate (aka BULLSHIT).

  8. This public policy was put in the constitution. A right! A patient right, for use if they choose after being certified. A patient should control their treatment in consultation with their physicians. A citizen has basic rights to own and enjoy property in consideration for taxes paid . The government should no longer inhibit cultivation for a certified patient use on there own homestead. I support a 7 plant + a 3 pound limit per homestead. In all stages of preparation from green, cured, dry, frozen, freeze dried or any other form (except the 7 living plants) regardless of how many certified patients are in the homestead. If a patient acquires more than 3 pounds they must transfer per law to a commercial MMTC. This non graded MMJ could be redistributed to less fortunate certified patients thru the commercial MMTC at a discounted price for low income certified patients who don’t own property for cultivation or are just unable to plant and harvest for them selves.

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