Jeff Brandes on higher levels of THC: Wait until next year

medical-marijuana (3)

Word had been spreading through the Capitol this week that the attempt to broaden Florida’s medicinal marijuana law had hit a roadblock. Monday when the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee considered a Right to Try Act, allowing terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs and procedures, no attempt was made to include marijuana in the proposal.

The sponsor is Sen. Jeff Brandes, one of the Senate supporters of lifting prohibitions on the use of marijuana as medicine. He explained Tuesday that he decided to wait until next year to pursue further reforms. Brandes does not like writing bills on second reading on the Senate floor.

Brandes said he has regulatory concerns with the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 and its proposed fix SPB 7066, which the Senate will consider Wednesday. His counsel to stakeholders and the House is to wait until next year to pursue further reforms.

Here’s a transcript of a conversation with Brandes after Tuesday’s Senate Appropriation Committee meeting.

Q: Looks like efforts to broaden the medicinal marijuana law have stalled. What’s going on?

Brandes: I think there has been a significant change in the last 72 hours on medical marijuana. We are in a situation where the regulatory structure that exists is not appropriate for a larger program. It is my counsel to my fellow senators and my friends in the House that we take a step back, we spend the next couple of months really talking to experts on the regulatory structure, and that we come back next year having fully vetted it; having done the hard work and that we put it through committee the right way.

I hate building bills on second reading. And that’s what we would be forced to do in the last 10 days of the session. You would have a medical marijuana bill that would have never went through a committee be voted on in the Senate that significantly changed our policy.

Whatever people think about medical marijuana, process matters and process matters to me in the Florida Senate.

The best part of this process is when we can have bills go through the committee process, be amended, be debated, be discussed, have public testimony, have experts come in and talk to us about things that we can do. Those are not things that are offered on the floor of the Florida Senate.

Q: So, for this session is a fix for the 2014 Act still alive?

Brandes: For this session you may see the low-THC cleanup bill go through but I don’t think you will see anything more.

Q: You are saying that 7066 may go through but it will remain low THC and cannabis oil?

Brandes: Correct. It might go through to clarify and codify some of the rule making but it will be low THC. We do not have a regulatory structure to design or set up for higher THC and that really became the major sticking point.

James Call


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