House prepares medical marijuana bill for vote
House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers, confers with a colleague Tuesday April 4, 2017 on the floor of the House at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

Ray Rodrigues

The Florida House began discussions on its medical marijuana implementation bill, teeing it up for a vote early next week.

The proposal (HB 1397) was amended Friday to move it closer to the Senate bill (SB 406), but House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, the bill’s sponsor, told members the House continues to be negotiations with the Senate over the final bill.

The amended version of the bill, among other things, allows edible forms of medical marijuana, so long as they are not “attractive to children.” The updated version of the bill also allows for vaping.

It also removes a contentious provision that requires patients to have a three-month relationship with a physician before they can access marijuana. A holdover from the 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, dozens of advocates had called on the House to remove the provision.

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

Once considered to be more restrictive than the Senate version, the amendment appeared to draw the ire of some of the House’s more conservative members. During debate on the amendment, Rep. Gayle Harrell said while she was “pleased to be able to vote on House bill in Health and Human Services,” she couldn’t support the amended proposal.

“This substitute amendment really expands the scope of the constitutional amendment,” said Harrell. “I believe this amendment is very dangerous. It’s going to open up the patient market.”

Harrell pointed to provisions that would expand the use of medical marijuana to people suffering from chronic nonmalignant pain as one of the issues that concerned her. That provision, she said, could allow someone to get a recommendation for something like big toe pain or a headache.

Members also peppered Rodrigues about his decision not to prohibit smoking under the bill, something Rodrigues stood behind.

“It doesn’t ban smoking,” said the Estero Republican. “Smoking is already banned.”

He also said the constitutional amendment authorized a doctor to recommend medical marijuana, but left it up to the Legislature to define the method of delivery. He said science supports the methods outlined in the proposal, and they are methods that “lead to better outcomes for Florida patients.”

The amended version of the bill does not lower the threshold for licensing new medical marijuana treatment centers. Under the proposal, current license holders are grandfathered in, and a member of the Florida chapter of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association, which was shut out of 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 paces, issuing five more licenses by October and then adding four more for every 75,000 people who register with the compassionate use registry.

Rodrigues said licensing is part of the negotiations with the Senate.

The House could vote on the bill early next week. The full Senate could hear the Senate proposal in the coming days.

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


2 comments

  • Glen Gibellina

    April 29, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    IT’S A P L A N T

  • Bob Dakota

    April 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

    “We have listened, and we have worked hard to create a patient-centered process,” Rodrigues, R-Estero said. Lip serve is all Rodrigues is doing. Maybe he listened but he ignored what the people need and want. He listen and heard Fay and Sembler( the manslaughter) who have brought and paid for his vote. 20M Floridian want a patient center process. Rodrigues and his co-hort Bradley thinks 7 current licenses who have failed miserably to provide access to qualified patients under CMCA will do the job. 3 years and now they want to provide access, what a crime. But they did sell off equity stakes in their companies making ten of millions of dollars. Now these licensee are bring in outside companies that they say can develop a marketing process to provide access to medical cannabis for qualified patients. Which they admitted they do not know how to do. Why do the uneducated politician believe a well connect farmer knows how to grow, process and distribute medical cannabis. How much money has flowed to the politicians from these licensees? The number $2,000,000 since the passage of CMCA. It is all about the money, “PAY TO PLAY”. Now the partners in crime Rodrigues and Bradley want to expand to another 5 growers, again what will make these 5 qualified to grow, process and distribute medical cannabis, nothing. It’s all about the money. Oh I forgot they want a token black farmer for diversity. Why is a black farmer more important than other minority group. They aren’t. This is discrimination at it’s most obvious. I am surprised the ACLU has not gotten involve in this discriminatory process being perpetrated on Floridians. Success will only come from horizontally integrated free market(non-discriminatory) along with local control of the who, what, where and how to implement amendment 2. This is the only way that patient center care will actually benefit Floridians. Who know their constituents better, the corrupt politicians in Tallahassee or our local politicians? Who knows whats best for us our doctor and you or the corrupt politicians in Tallahassee? Vertically integrated monopolies do not work! When has a monopoly served the people, never. Monopolies only serve the politicians that develop implement and protect them. We are a capitalistic country that relies on free market competition which will guarantee quality quantity, education and access that Floridian need and deserve. No bill is better than a bad bill which is what is being proposed let the bill fail. If they fail the Department of Health will have to implement amendment 2. Maybe just maybe they have listen to the people. Floridians call your representatives and tell them to vote no on these awful bills that will be voted on this week. After that call AG Bondi to investigate, prosecute and convict those that are involved in the Pay to play scheme on Floridians.

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