The state Senate passed its medical marijuana implementation bill on Friday, the last scheduled day of the Special Session.
The measure (SB 8-A), after technical and “product safety” amendments were tacked on, was approved by a 28-8 vote.
Senators also passed, 36-0, a related public records bill exempting the personal identifying information of patient caregivers that is in the state’s “Compassionate Use Registry.” Both were sponsored by Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican.
Both bills now travel to the House. The Special Session is scheduled to end 6 p.m. Friday.
In debate, Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens said he still did not believe “this bill implements … the will of the voters.” He has objected to the lack of allowance for medicinal cannabis to be smoked.
Personal-injury attorney John Morgan, who backed the constitutional amendment on medical marijuana that passed in 2016 with 71 percent of the vote, said this week he will sue the state if lawmakers don’t allow medical marijuana to be smoked.
“We have to do the right thing, not just something,” Clemens said. He also objected to preferences for growing licenses that favor nurseries in business for at least 30 years.
Such operations “know no more about growing cannabis than a college student with a closet,” Clemens added.
Gainesville Republican Keith Perry, who opposes smoking, pointed to what he called 22 scientific studies showing the perils of smoked cannabis, including cancer and lung diseases.
“It needs to be administered in a form that will not cause further harm to patients,” Perry said.
Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democrat, told a personal story about his mother. She’s near the end of her life and residing in Israel because she needs to take advantage of its socialized medicine system.
She smokes marijuana to manage pain, he said.
“If (patients) want to smoke it, they should be able to smoke it,” he said. “Once (they) realize they can’t smoke it, we’ll be back here to fix it.”
Tom Lee lamented that “every drug has to go through the FDA, but this drug we’ve made a populist decision … but I don’t want to relitigate that.”
The Thonotosassa Republican also feared that the state’s licensing regime will drive up the price of medicinal cannabis so much that some patients will seek it “from the black market.”
He too has a personal stake in the system, though. Lee mentioned a friend undergoing treatment at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center who urged him to vote for the bill. She wants to use edible “gummy bear” marijuana, which the legislation does permit.
Later Friday, a U.S. Sugar spokeswoman knocked down reports that it would benefit from a special provision in the bill.
It provides for up to two growing licenses to applicants who can show “they own one or more facilities that are, or were, used for the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses, and will use or convert the facility or facilities for the processing of marijuana.”
“Our company has not been engaged in any way with any member of the Florida Legislature regarding medical marijuana,” Judy Sanchez said.
Updated 4 p.m. — The House took up the Senate bill but made minor changes, sending it back to that chamber after OK’ing it by a vote of 103-9.