Medical marijuana Archives - Page 7 of 35 - Florida Politics

House Appropriations Committee clears medical marijuana bill, despite concerns from advocates

A House panel cleared the lower chamber’s medical marijuana implementing bill, despite continued concerns from advocates who said the measure doesn’t go far enough.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill (HB 1397) by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues that would implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The proposal now heads to the Health & Human Services Committee, the final stop before a vote of the full House.

The bill, among other things, calls for a 90-day waiting period before a physician can recommend medical marijuana; prohibits smoking, vaping and edibles; and calls for new licenses to be issued after 150,000 qualified patients register with the state’s compassionate use registry.

While generally viewed as more restrictive than the Senate proposal (SB 406), Rodrigues said he has been in negotiations with the Senate about what the final proposal could look like.

“This bill is a work in progress,” said the Estero Republican. “Our goal is to produce a bill that honors the spirit of the constitutional amendment.”

Approved in November with the backing of 71 percent of Floridians, the constitutional amendment allows Floridians with debilitating medical conditions, determined by licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana. While the amendment went into effect Jan. 3, state lawmakers and the Florida Department of Health have been tasked with implementing the law.

Advocates have expressed concern that the House proposal doesn’t honor the spirit of the amendment, and point to restrictions — like the 90-day waiting period and smoking prohibition — as examples to back up their claims.

“These sorts of extreme restrictions on access will simply serve to drive patients to the black market,” said Ben Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care. “This proposal ignores the Florida Constitution and the will of 71 percent of Floridians. And in addition to that clear, direct conflict with the people’s will, the results of the policies contained within HB 1397 will instead feed the criminal activity that it’s author has said this bill was written to obviate.”

While several members commended Rodrigues for his work, they said they couldn’t vote for the proposal at this time because of the restrictions in place.

“This has probably become the most complicated subject bill this session,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz. “I think it’s more complicated than gaming or anything else, because we have to get it right. What we do here … it has tremendous ramifications if we get it wrong.”

Moskowitz called the 90-day waiting period “completely ridiculous,” and said there was no other medication or product available to alleviate pain where someone would be required to wait 90 days to get.

Rep. Katie Edwards, who co-sponsored the legislation that created the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, also called for lawmakers to remove the 90-day waiting period, saying it was a bad idea from the “word go.”

Rodrigues said the waiting period already exists under the 2014 compassionate use law, which was used as a foundation to build the implementing bill.

“I’m tired of apologizing, members,” said Edwards, after telling a story about having to explain to a relative why their child had to wait 90 days to get medical marijuana. “Don’t make the same mistake I did on some of these issues and have to tell a relative ‘I’m sorry.’”

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee is set to take up its implementing bill during its meeting at 4 p.m.

Trulieve opens new medical marijuana dispensary in Miami

Trulieve is opening a new cannabis dispensary Wednesday morning at 4020 Northwest 26th Street near Miami International Airport. It is the company’s fifth Florida location.

“Our goal at Trulieve is to help as many patients as we can. A few weeks ago, we opened our Pensacola dispensary and now, with this one in Miami, we have covered the two farthest corners of the state,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “We will be opening several more locations this year,” added Rivers.

Trulieve now delivers statewide and has four other dispensaries in Clearwater, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.

Upon opening, patients will find an assortment of low THC and high THC products with various delivery methods including capsules, vaporizers and tinctures.

To celebrate the new location, Trulieve will hold a news conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. with tours of the Miami dispensary immediately following.

More information on Trulieve is at www.Trulieve.com.

Amendment could limit the number of retail locations allowed to dispense medical marijuana

A proposed amendment to the Senate’s medical marijuana implementing could limit the number of retail facilities allowed to dispense medical marijuana.

Sen. Frank Artiles filed an amendment  to the Senate proposal (SB 406) Monday that appears to place a cap on the number of retail facilities from which medical marijuana treatment centers can dispense medical marijuana.

According to the amendment, medical marijuana treatment centers “may not dispense marijuana from more than 3 retail facilities.” The amendment does not limit “MMTC facilities that only dispense low-THC cannabis and sell marijuana delivery devices to qualified patients.”

The amendment could impact existing license holders, including ones that have already opened retail locations across the state.

There are currently seven dispensing organizations — similar to a medical marijuana treatment centers under the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment — authorized to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana in Florida.  But a bill set to be discussed during the Senate’s Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meeting could open the door to new licenses as soon as October.

Under the bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, the state would be required to add five additional medical marijuana treatment centers — at least of which must be a black farmer — by Oct. 3, 2017.

It then calls on the state to register four more medical marijuana treatment centers within “six months after each instance of the registration of 75,000 qualifying patients with the compassionate use registry” if a sufficient number of applicants meet the registration requirements.

A second amendment by Artiles would require the state to issue of the four remaining licenses to a “veteran business enterprise.” That amendment also calls on the state to “grant preferential and bonus scoring criteria for applicants that, at the time of the initial application, are veteran business enterprises … which meet the requirements to be awarded and registered as an MMTC.”

Senate records show Sen. Bobby Powell has filed an amendment meant to encourage minority participation in the in MMTC operations and subcontracting.

Bradley’s bill is scheduled to be discussed during the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meeting at 4 p.m.

The House Appropriations Committee is set to discuss its version of the medical marijuana implementing bill (HB 1397) during its meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Legislature makes slow progress on medical pot rules

Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in November that formally legalized medical marijuana for chronic pain and other ailments, but with less than a month to go in their session, Florida legislators remain far apart on how to implement it.

Bills in the Senate and House don’t agree on the details of expanding access to the drug, from adding pot distributors to deciding whether doctors can prescribe marijuana to people who haven’t been their patients for at least three months.

The Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley (SB 406) is seen as more permissive and has drawn support from medical marijuana advocates, while the House bill sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues (HB 1397) is widely considered more restrictive and is backed by the Drug-Free America Foundation.

The Senate measure would eliminate a current requirement that a patient be under a doctor’s care for more than 90 days before being able to get a prescription for marijuana — a restriction that would be kept in place under the House version. The Senate bill would immediately expand the number of licenses issued for marijuana distributors in the state, while the House version would require that 150,000 patients sign up for medical marijuana use before expanding the existing pool of distributors.

Taylor Patrick Biehl, who help runs the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, said Bradley’s Senate bill is more in line with what voters approved.

“He’s turned out to be a true champion for patients,” Biehl said.

Disabled veteran Bill Cody called the House bill an “abomination” and said even Bradley’s bill doesn’t provide doctors with enough leeway to determine what ailments could qualify for marijuana prescriptions.

The amendment passed by voters would expand its use beyond the limited prescriptions for low-strength marijuana allowed under a 2014 law. It also would expand the eligible ailments beyond the current list of cancer, epilepsy and chronic muscle spasms, to include HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other similar conditions.

The state Health Department would issue regulations defining the additional conditions, but Cody said that could be too restrictive. He thinks doctors should be explicitly authorized to decide what conditions should qualify.

“There are many cases of chronic pain that are not covered currently,” he said.

The amendment stipulates that new rules must be adopted by July 3. If lawmakers cannot agree on them by their May 5 end of session, the Health Department would issue regulations on its own, but those would be more vulnerable to legal challenges, essentially leaving the issue up to the courts.

Doctors and patients remain in limbo. Sunai Edwards, a lawyer at GrayRobinson in Tampa, has received plenty of calls from doctors and has given them all the same advice: Wait until the new rules are implemented.

The bills in each chamber have gone through only one of three scheduled committees. Still, the campaign manager for medical marijuana advocates United for Care, Ben Pollara, remains optimistic a bill will be passed.

“Hopefully all issues can be resolved. We want something done. It’s about getting something in place,” Pollara said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press

Jim DeBeaugrine: Revenue from medical marijuana for treatment, prevention would be minimal

Jim DeBeaugrine

If nothing else, the intense debate over how to implement legalized medical marijuana in Florida has given many of us a crash course in business economics, government regulation and medical protocols.

We’ve heard hours of discussion on such topics as vertical versus horizontal business structures, free-markets versus exclusivity, and physician discretion versus government prescription.

Missing from this discussion, however, is the collateral damage of the drug trade – addiction, criminal behavior, broken families, unemployment, even death.

Ironically, these collateral effects are the most likely to directly impact the average Floridian. As we’ve recently learned from the prescription opioid crisis, it doesn’t matter that a substance is legal and highly regulated.

Fortunately, the Legislature has a tremendous opportunity to make major progress toward addressing these unwanted side effects. Under current law, marijuana is subject to the state’s sales and use tax. This is, by the way, consistent with most of the states that have legalized medical marijuana. State economists estimate that tax collections will eventually rise to $24 million on an annual basis. This estimate, however, is based on assumed annual sales that are roughly one-quarter what a leading industry expert predicts.

Either way, these funds represent an untapped resource that could be used to boost the state’s substance abuse education, prevention and treatment efforts.

As things stand right now, the House bill (HB 1397) exempts medical marijuana from state tax. The Senate bill (SB 406) retains the sales tax but the funds would go to General Revenue unallocated. As unallocated General Revenue, $24 million is a relatively insignificant amount that will be fought over by the myriad interests that compete each year in the budget process. As a dedicated funding source for prevention and treatment, however, it becomes a significant shot-in-the-arm to help address a growing crisis in our state.

At the Center to Advance Justice, our primary mission is to educate the public on policies and practices that research show to be effective in reducing criminal behavior and the associated costs. As such, we are acutely aware of the connection between substance abuse and criminal activity.

Perhaps even more compelling is the public health crisis we are experiencing with the recent spike in opioid overdose deaths. It is a painful reminder that shutting down a market, as we did with pill mills, does not solve the underlying addictions that drove it.

The bottom line is that the drug trade, whether legal or not, creates unintended societal consequences that affect us all.

Any public policy discussion related to creating a new legal drug market should include a discussion of these unintended effects. It is both logical and appropriate for an industry to participate in addressing the externalities it creates. Plus, the well-developed regulatory schemes that exist for the existing pharmaceutical industry are not in place in for medical marijuana.

Finally, we have not picked up on any opposition from industry representatives we have spoken with regarding the idea of the industry contributing to prevention and treatment efforts.

Therefore, the Center to Advance Justice, along with several advocacy organizations, respectfully suggests that the Legislature give serious consideration to retaining the existing sales tax and dedicating all or a portion of the funds to evidence-based prevention, education and treatment.

___

Jim DeBeaugrine is the CEO of the Center to Advance Justice, a Florida nonprofit that provides information to the public and to policy makers regarding evidence-based approaches to reduce crime and the associated costs. He was formerly the staff director of the House Justice Appropriations subcommittee and the Executive Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Cost of tax exemption for medical marijuana would be minimal

No need to worry about the hit to general revenues from the Senate’s medical marijuana sales tax exemption.

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference estimated Friday that the bill might reduce tax receipts, but not enough to notice — even when accounting for the non-state residents who would qualify for cannabis cards if the bill becomes law.

“We felt like there might be a few snowbirds coming in, but we didn’t think that would be a lot,” said Amy Baker, director of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

More telling would be CS/SB 406’s extension of medical marijuana use to people suffering “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as those enumerated, and for which a physician believes the use of medical marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

“It does have a more expansive definition of ‘other,’ Baker said. “We think it adds to the pool of people (eligible to use), but we didn’t put a number on how many people.”

Bottom line: a “negative insignificant” revenue impact.

You’ll find more details about the bill, including a comparison to the House version, here.

The conference expects a proposed amendment to the House’s medical marijuana bill, HB 1397, exempting vaporizing devices from sales taxes, to have a “positive insignificant” effect.

That’s because of research suggesting the number of patients who “vape” is relatively small. Moreover, a lot of medical marijuana providers give the devices away free of charge, or at least offer free replacements if one breaks.

New wrinkles in Florida’s medical marijuana implementation raise doubts, concerns

I’ve not been shy about expressing my concerns about the implementation of Amendment 2, many of which stem from the fact that I’m the father of a young daughter. From that perspective, it’s imperative to me that Florida exercises necessary prudence and caution while putting in place the mandate from voters on medical marijuana.

I’m not ashamed to say: “Surely, not in my backyard!”

Call me NIMBY. Call me old fashioned. Just don’t call me Shirley.

The existing seven licenses to grow marijuana in Florida have, for the most part, taken a similar stance as I have on a responsible roll out of the new law. They have good reason to do so: a cautious, slowly phased-in, expansion of medical marijuana in Florida is good for their bottom lines.

That may seem greedy or cynical to some, but I don’t think it is. The intersection of philosophy and self-interest tends to be a strong impetus for the creation of public policy, and that’s a good thing.

But self-interest being self-interest you also can’t expect that intersection to remain static on a big piece of public policy, with big dollars at stake, like medical marijuana.

Certain recent events have given me a reason to take a step back on some of these issues and evaluate the philosophical honesty of the approach of Florida’s current Dispensing Organizations, soon to be reregistered as MMTCs under Amendment 2.

Let me start by saying that I accept the basic premise put forward by these DO’s and legislators that they’ve built businesses by a foregone conclusion that our nascent medical marijuana system would expand dramatically – either under Amendment 2’s passage or legislative action. And they have done so at significant expense, without much in the way of return, thus far.

Now, that investment alone doesn’t necessarily justify a policy of abject protectionism in implementing the constitution, but again, as it intersects with the notion of caution and public safety, the case gets stronger to do so.

Except for some new wrinkles.

This week, Canadian mega-marijuana corporation, Aphria Inc., announced a deal to essentially buy CHT Medical outright, one of the seven licensed DOs. They’re doing so with $25 million cash, while launching a $35 million raise, valuing the company at $177 million (!!!). CHT only began selling low-THC marijuana to patients in January, mind you.

As I outlined in my last piece on this subject, there was an intense and rigorous application process to select those current license holders. Particularly in the case of CHT’s apparent wholesale unloading of their license to Aphria, would essentially circumvent that entire vetting process. These investors could be great news for Florida, we just don’t know, since they didn’t go through the process like everyone else.

Second, it strikes me as a tad intellectually inconsistent to argue for sympathy over their investment in the Florida market in one breath, while raising big foreign investment dollars in the next. (And CHT isn’t alone in its fundraising, just the most public. As the Miami Herald has reported, almost all of the licensees are currently raising capital from investors.)

Finally, let’s think about the pitch these companies naturally would have to make to secure these sorts of massive capital infusions. Legal marijuana is big business, to be sure, but it’s also an industry in its infancy that is handcuffed in many ways by the glaring conflicts between state laws and federal law, where marijuana remains a DEA Schedule 1 substance. That’s why you still don’t see traditional money players like Goldman and Citi and their ilk playing in this space.

So why the big investments and insane valuations? The answer lies more in the licenses granted by Florida, and less in the P&Ls of the companies in question.

Under current law, after having gone through the rigorous application process, posting a $5 million bond, building growing, processing and retail facilities, and receiving DOH approvals to cultivate and then distribute medical marijuana, licensees can pretty much do whatever they want.

Most states with some form of legal marijuana require separate applications and licenses for each individual business operation. A grow has its own license, retail dispensaries are individually licensed, etc. Other states with vertical integration, like Florida, allow multiple operations under a single license. In those states, the maximum number of retail facilities that can be operated under a license is limited to 3 or less (except for New York, which allows 4).

In Florida? There is no limit.

That’s right, folks.

What the press corps and I have likewise been derelict in reporting on, is that our present cohort of marijuana growers in Florida can open unlimited retail facilities – “pot shops” in the parlance of this issue – across the state. And that’s precisely what they are planning to do with all of this new capital they are raising by the truckload.

A pot shop on every corner? Without action to fix this glaring loophole (heh), that’s where we’re headed.

Not in my backyard.

Is the Senate on the right path on medical marijuana?

The Senate, with the revised version of SB 406, appears to be on what is a fairly balanced means of implementing Amendment 2.

Is that my opinion?  Maybe.

But, as of yesterday, even the intrepid Ben Pollara sent an email saying (and I quote), “The Senate bill puts Patients First…” while most parties in attendance at the recent committee hearing waived in support. Not all, but most. That’s a far cry from where this was a few short weeks ago.

Good job senators.

But there is one provision that made it into the bill that will likely create (yet another) firestorm of lawsuits while unnecessarily jeopardizing patient safety. If enacted, this one provision and the resulting litigation conflagration will delay more licensees from entering the field of play or allow some substandard players with untested methods to slide into the market.

That provision should warrant another glance.

Here’s the deal … the bill (SB 406) as it left the committee allows — nay, requires — the Department of Health to issue five new licenses by Oct. 3 — of this year!

To clarify, these licenses must be completed and issued by Oct. 3.

Why should this freak some people out?

First, it is important to recognize that the Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) has only a handful of employees who are already up to their eyeballs in regulating the current crop of licensees, managing physician, and patient registries, handling complaints, issuing identification cards to patients and caregivers, etcetera. Second, it is also vital to understand how complex these new license applications are statutorily required to be. Last round, they averaged well over the 1,000+ page range.

Keep in mind that applicants must rush in these applications and then OCU must review, evaluate, score and award them (thousands of pages worth) – IN LIGHT SPEED.

They must do this, keep in mind, while issuing new patient and physician ID cards, implement sweeping new legislation, monitoring existing operations and do everything else they already do. Whew!

What could possibly go wrong?

With lots and lots (and lots!) of dollars on the table, and tens of thousands of pages to be scoured, there will certainly be at least a handful of aggrieved losers who will take their loss to the courts. We have danced this dance before.

But that’s not even the worst problem.

And what of these drive-thru applicants?  Will they be properly vetted?  Will their seed-to-sale systems be thoroughly reviewed for safety, purity, and consistency? Will the OCU be able to really ensure safe products?  We are, after all, dealing with some very sick patients who probably don’t need pesticides or other impurities being vaped into their lungs.

Consider that these new applicants must be able to demonstrate a safe and secure system of growing, processing and extracting CBD and THC products. OCU must evaluate, verify and score those systems. The applicants must clearly articulate how they will keep pesticides and other chemical impurities out of the final product. Then they need to develop and explain a failsafe system of tracking and identifying products while diagnosing on-site issues before the drugs leave their facilities. Further, they must also have a method – in writing – to ensure a consistent extraction technique to make sure that a dosage is exactly what it is supposed to be.

All of these safety measures must be carefully reviewed.

It isn’t growing tomatoes in your backyard. This is growing, processing and extracting a controlled substance. A substance that is meant to be carefully administered to very sick people and, I am sorry, but three short months is simply not enough time to ensure the safety of the patients who will be taking these drugs.

I am not disputing the notion of expanding the number of licenses – that’s another conversation for another column – but with such a (hyper) short application to award window, the most likely outcome (from this vantage point) will be years of litigation followed by an onslaught of safety problems.

Here’s what puzzles this writer.

SB 406 began its journey like most bills in the process; with a patient threshold (and not an arbitrary date) as a trigger to begin the process of awarding new licenses. It seems to make the most sense as it not only aligns the Senate bill closer to the House version, it relies on a logical progression based on actual users.

Why the change?  Why the ultra-short window?  Why take this chance?

This same body spent years designing a system to ensure the safety of patients. Um, where did that go?

Amendment 2 isn’t going anywhere, and, as of right now, there are only a few thousand active patients in the registry and far (far!) more than enough active dispensaries who are willing and able to service them. And, in case anyone needs to be reminded, you will be right back here in about 10 short months to evaluate progress.

The state of the market will be a whole lot clearer then, and we won’t have to guess how the system is working. But rushing to open the floodgates before the waters rise, just doesn’t seem like good policy – especially when sick patients’ lives are at stake.

medical marijuana

Senate panel OKs medical marijuana bill, speeds up pace for new licenses

A Senate panel is moving forward with its version of a bill to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, approving an amended version of the proposal during its meeting.

The Senate Health Policy Committee approved a bill (SB 406), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, that would implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Facing a jam-packed agenda, members set aside just over an hour to tackle the bill and 15 amendments, leaving little time for public input and member debate.

The panel adopted an amendment that would lower the threshold for adding new medical marijuana treatment centers. Under the amendment adopted Monday, the state would be required to add five additional medical marijuana treatment centers — at least of which must be a black farmer — by Oct. 3, 2017.

The amended bill calls on the state to register four more medical marijuana treatment centers within “six months after each instance of the registration of 75,000 qualifying patients with the compassionate use registry” if a sufficient number of applicants meet the registration requirements. Under the proposal, applicants must be registered to do business in the state for the previous five consecutive years before submitting an application.

Several members expressed concerns about opening up the market to new licenses. Sen. Bill Montford said he was concerned adding five more medical marijuana treatment centers into the market so soon could have a negative impact on companies that are currently dispensing medical marijuana. Montford encouraged members to slow the process down and take a more deliberative approach to expansion, noting they’ll be back in “less than a year” and could make “a more well-informed decision at that time.”

Bradley said the Senate’s position on the number of licenses could put them in a good position to have discussions with the House, which has approved a bill that calls on the state to issue new licenses after 150,000 qualified patients are registered in the compassionate use registry.

The Senate also approved an amendment that would allow patients who are not residents of Florida, but have a qualifying condition to have access to medical marijuana while they are in Florida if they can “lawfully obtain marijuana through a medical marijuana program in a state that he or she resides in.”

The amendment was meant to address concerns raised during a workshop last month about snowbirds or long-term tourists who live in a state with medical marijuana, but can’t access it while they’re visiting Florida.

The committee also adopted amendments to allow the Department of Health to charge “a reasonable fee associated with the issuance and renewal of patient and caregiver identification cards,” an amendment that would require medical marijuana be tested by an independent testing lab, and an amendment that would establish the Coalition for Medical Marijuana Research and Education within the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.

The bill now heads to the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

medical marijuana

Senate amendment quickens pace for medical marijuana treatment center growth

A Senate panel is poised to approve legislation this week that could add five more medical marijuana treatment centers in Florida by October and lower the threshold for adding additional treatment centers in the future.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled to discuss and vote on a bill (SB 406), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, that would implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The Orange Park Republican has filed eight amendments to his bill, incorporating aspects of several other implementing bills filed in the Senate during the 2017 Legislative Session.

One of the most significant changes Bradley has proposed would lower the threshold for adding new medical marijuana treatment centers. Under an amendment filed Friday, the state would be required to add five additional medical marijuana treatment centers — at least one of which must be a black farmer — by Oct. 3, 2017.

The amendment then stipulates within “six months after each instance of the registration of 75,000 qualifying patients with the compassionate use registry” the state register four additional treatment centers “if a sufficient number of MMTC applicants meet the registration requirements.”

That’s a significantly lower threshold than what Bradley first proposed. Under the bill Bradley filed in January, the state health department would have been required to add more treatment centers only when an additional 250,000 qualified patients registered with the compassionate use registry. After that, five new medical marijuana treatment centers would be registered when the number of patients reach 350,000; 400,000; and 500,000.

During a workshop in March, Bradley said based on feedback he received he had come to believe his bill was “too restrictive.”

If approved, the Senate bill has the potential to open the door for far more medical marijuana treatment centers than the House proposal (HB 1397).

That proposal, sponsored by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, calls on the state to issue licenses to five applicants denied by the Department of Health and one black farmer after 150,000 qualified patients are registered in the compassionate use registry. New applicants would then be allowed once there are 200,000 qualified patients.

Rodrigues’ bill cleared the Health Quality Subcommittee on a 14-1 vote, and will next be discussed in the House Appropriations Committee.

Bradley has also proposed an amendment that would require medical marijuana to be tested by an independent testing lab to ensure it meets the standards established by the state’s quality control programs. A bill (SB 1388) filed by Sen. Frank Artiles also called for independent third party testing.

Committee members will also be asked to vote on an amendment Monday that would establish the Coalition for Medical Marijuana Research and Education within the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.

The purpose of the coalition would be to “conduct rigorous scientific research, provide education, disseminate research, and to guide policy for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for the medicinal use of marijuana.” The amendment appears to be substantially similar to a bill (SB 1472) filed Sen. Bill Galvano, which passed the Senate Education on a 9-0 vote on March 27.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. in 412 Knott.

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