Lawmakers finally pass medical marijuana implementation bill - Florida Politics

Lawmakers finally pass medical marijuana implementation bill

After a false start during the regular Legislative Session, lawmakers Friday passed a medical marijuana implementation bill on the last day of the Special Session, sending it to Gov. Rick Scott.

The wide-ranging legislation (SB 8-A) will give guidance to state regulators as they put the state’s constitutional amendment medical marijuana into effect.

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Gov. Rick Scott said later on Friday he will sign the bill into law.

According to the bill analysis’ summary, the measure among other things:

— Grandfathers in seven existing providers, renames them “medical marijuana treatment centers” (MMTCs) and requires the Department of Health to license 10 new providers by October. The bill also allows four new MMTCs for every increase of 100,000 patients prescribed marijuana.

— Limits the number of retail locations each MMTC can open to 25 across the state, and divides that cap by region. As the patient count goes up, five more locations can be opened per provider for every new 100,000 patients in the state’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry. The limits expire in 2020.

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A fight over the retail location cap hung up the bill during the session that ended in May.

— Requires laboratory testing of marijuana products and creates a certification program for medical marijuana testing laboratories.

— Exempts the sale of “marijuana and marijuana delivery devices” from state sales tax.

— Establishes “qualifications required to become a caregiver including requiring the Department of Health (DOH) to create a caregiver certification course that each caregiver must take.”

An accompanying public records bill exempts the personal identifying information of patient caregivers that is in the state’s “Compassionate Use Registry.”

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 jim@floridapolitics.com.
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