Senate passes medical marijuana implementation bill – Florida Politics

Senate passes medical marijuana implementation bill

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.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at


  1. It should not be left up to the goverment how we take our medicines.We are full grown adults and the decision to smoke or not smoke our medical marijuana.I’m older than alot of these politicians that are telling me what I can and can not do.If I want to smoke my meds, that is noone else’s business.

  2. If you don’t see whats going on here you don’t see nothing ITS time to vote out all the politicians in the state of florida starting with RICK SCOTT

  3. This is a joke… of course theyre sticking in a provision in to help theyre lil sugar industry donor/friends…. Typical sneeky republicans….Hey republican ass@#&$+ youre all about the free markets …until its something you dont agree with…Then youregulate the hell out of it! Shocker… You cant smoke it??? So i guess were goning to outlaw cigarettes in florida too because there’s tons of science that says weed smoke is better then all the chemicals in a cig. combusted chemicals or plant matter are both probably not healthy but one has medical benefits!!!!! How many people die from alcohol related health or traffic incidents??? How many people die from prescription drugs??? !!?!! How many people have ever died from weed overdose???? 0!!! And that my friends is hypocrisy…

    How about allow people to open up dispensaries with the same application you go through to open a neighborhood pharmacy…NO CAPS!! And tax the hellnout of it… That way everyone makes money..the state!! Which needs it …and the people…and competition keeps the price down for prople who are sick and need it!!!!!!

    The only regulation that is needed is lab testing .. Maybe even let the state do that to make even more money…to insure that patients arnt getting crap”that some college kid is growing in theyre closet” and they are getting something that is potent and maybe set up a dosage system and not moldy spiders mite filled trash… Which is where its going. .

    I worked on this in washing state …i grew up in this state in Tampa i want tk see this work. Im a true fiscal conservative… Someone get in contact with me..Lets organize.

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