Amendment moves House closer to Senate on medical marijuana, but differences remain

voters approve medial marijuana

The Florida House is moving closer to the Senate’s position when it comes to medical marijuana, but conflicts over several big issues, including the number of licenses, remain in conflict.

Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues filed an 86-page, delete-all amendment Wednesday to his medical marijuana implementing bill (HB 1397). The amendment was one of more than two dozen amendments filed Wednesday, ahead of an expected discussion on the measure on the House floor Friday.

The Estero Republican has long said he was in negotiations with the Senate over the bill. He said he had hoped to present a so-called reconciliation bill during the Health & Human Services Committee meeting Monday, but told committee members that he and the Senate had “not gotten there yet.”

The amendment moves the House version closer to the Senate bill, allowing edible forms of marijuana, so long as they are not “attractive to children.” The bill calls on edibles to be, among other things, individually sealed in “plain, opaque wrapping marked only with marijuana universal symbol.” The amendment also allows vaping, something the original House bill did not allow.

The amendment also removes a controversial provision that requires patients to have a three-month relationship with a physician before they can get access to marijuana. A holdover from the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, dozens of advocates have call for the House to remove the provision.

The Senate bill allows edibles and vaping, and does not include the 90-day wait period.

While the House has moved closer to the Senate on some positions, it appears to be standing firm — at least right now — in others. The proposed amendment does not lower the threshold for licensing new medical marijuana treatment centers.

Under the House proposal, current license holders would be grandfathered in, and a member of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association, which was shut out under the existing system, would be issued a license. The Department of Health would then issue five new licenses to once there are 150,000 qualified patients registered with the compassionate use registry.

The Senate bill quickens the pace, issuing five more licenses by October and then adding four medical marijuana treatment centers for every 75,000 people who patients who register.

The Senate bill, however, caps the number of retail facilities a license-holder can have, something the House amendment is silent on.

The House could begin discussions its bill on Friday. The Senate bill (SB 406), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, has not yet been placed on the calendar.

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


  • Darren B.

    April 27, 2017 at 10:08 am

    These politicians make me sick. Subverting the will of 71% of voters for their own financial gain, and happily taking the money the Semblers bestowed upon them. This has never been about “compassion” for them. It’s all been about appeasing the vocal minority of ignorant prohibitionists, and doing the bidding of their paymasters. The governor, Pam Bondi, and Christian Bax are all complicit in this.
    You all remember Christian Bax, don’t you? You know, the head of the Office of Compassionate Use who was a cronyism/nepotism hire with NO cannabis experience whatsoever?

    This is going to be the WORST MMJ program in the country, and one that only benefits the pay-to-play growers and the politicians. Government overreach of the highest order. These so-called “conservatives” are hypocrites. I wish I had a job where I only had to work for 60 days out of the year thinking of ways to screw the public over while lining my own pockets. Must be nice.

    Every representative that voted “yay” for HB 1397 needs to be voted out of office.

  • Bob Dakota

    April 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Still protecting those that have donated so much to our politicians. Both bill are unrealistic, neither will adequately serve the qualified patients of Florida. Control of the who, what, where and how to implement amendment to should be left in the hands of our local politicians. Who know their constitutes better than our local government? Why do politicians in Tallahassee want to control what the local government can implement more efficiently? That’s and easy answer money, pay to play. Money is power and our politicians crave all the power they can get. They know whats best for Floridians your opinion means nothing. bureaucrats in Tallahassee know what best for us even better than our own doctors. In over 60 years I have never seen such a corrupt process. Politician don’t know what best for me, my doctor and I do. Where is our AG? Why hasen’t AG Bondi investigated, prosecuted and convict those involved in this pay to play scheme. Why is she protecting the politicians and not the people? Contact her and ask her why.

  • Gerry Lopez

    April 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    If I’m reading right now HB 1397 will allow vaping and edibles. The 90 day requirement will go away. At least is some progress. We all know that Brandes had the best bill, but Bradley have improved his significantly and eventually it will evolve. Now they need to add those 5 extra licenses, allow telemedicine and reduce the threshold. 406 is better than nothing and leqve it to the DOH and who know what they will do.

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