Lawmakers reached agreement early Wednesday, hours before the start of this week’s Special Session, to include medical marijuana implementation in the call.
After FloridaPolitics.com broke this news, the Florida Senate announced that Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, would “file legislation to implement Article X, section 29 of the Florida Constitution, which allows the use of marijuana by patients with debilitating medical conditions. The Senate will consider the bill during this week’s Special Session.”
The agreement calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year, in addition to the seven that already hold a state license under an existing, limited cannabis program. Five new growers would be added for every 100,000 patients, Sen. Bill Galvano, who was involved in negotiations, told the Tampa Bay Times.
As for a cap of on the number of dispensers each grower can open, the magic number is 25. Under the proposed legislation, the cap on dispensaries will sunset in 2020.
Funding for medical marijuana research at the Moffitt Cancer Center is also expected to be included in the legislation.
At a brief floor session Wednesday, House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues of Estero told members thebill appeared to “match up” with the House’s position. He expected a bill on the House floor by Thursday.
The Senate bill, released later Wednesday, tracked the reported highlights.
“This legislation demonstrates fidelity to the Constitution by implementing the amendment passed by the voters last November,” Senate President Joe Negron said in a release. “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.”
The 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to implement the state’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.
In this year’s regular session, ended in May, lawmakers failed to agree on a bill related to the medical cannabis constitutional amendment passed in 2016. Just over 71 percent of statewide voters approved the measure.
The two chambers this year came to an impasse over the number of dispensaries, with the Senate moving to 15, “five times the original cap of three in an earlier version of the Senate bill,” Negron explained in a recent memo.
But the House “responded by setting its dispensary cap at 100 and providing a deadline for issuing new licenses of more than a year from now. Obviously, the Senate was not in a position to accept this House proposal. The medical cannabis bill then died,” Negron wrote.
The state in 2014 legalized low-THC, or “non-euphoric,” marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. THC is the chemical that causes the high from pot.
The state later expanded the use of medicinal marijuana through the “Right to Try Act,” which includes patients suffering intractable pain and loss of appetite from terminal illnesses.