Medical marijuana bill dead for 2017 Session

voters approve medial marijuana

A bill to implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment is dead, after the House amended the bill to increases the cap on retail facilities twentyfold.

The decision to send the bill back to the Senate kill the legislation (HB 1397), where senators were unwilling to increase the caps. Earlier in the day, Sen. Bill Galvano told POLITICO Florida the chance of passing was “slim to none, and I just saw slim leave town.”

The House voted 99-16 to send the bill back to Senate with an amendment that, among other things, caps the number of retail facilities per license holder at 100 shortly before 9 p.m.

That cap was 20 times higher than the number of retail facilities a licensed medical marijuana treatment center could have under the amended version of the bill the Senate sent back to the House on Thursday.

That version of the bill capped the number of stores per grower at five, and then allowed growers to add one additional store for every 75,000 patients that register with the medical use registry.

A lower cap, three retail locations per grower, was included in the Senate version of the bill (SB 406), and Sen. Rob Bradley, the sponsor of the Senate bill, said he believed proposal struck the right balance between allowing access and making sure there wasn’t “a dispensary on every corner.” Under the amended bill sent to the House on Thursday, there would have been more than 280 dispensaries in Florida by the time there were 300,000 qualified patients in Florida.

But the House did not include caps in any versions of its proposals, and Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, the House sponsor, said this week that he did not believe limiting storefronts “would provide necessary access.”

Rodrigues told his colleagues that the 100 store cap was a compromise, rationalizing that they started at no caps.

“Considering we started with no limitations and they started with three, moving from infinity to 100 … was a compromise,” he said.

The more conservative House has an ally in John Morgan, the Orlando Democrat who poured millions into the campaign, at least when it comes to caps. Morgan took to Twitter to rail against the decision, saying the caps “limit patient access.”

“I believe in a free market economy,” he tweeted this week. “FL House bill with NO caps is the PEOPLE’s choice!”

The amended version of the bill the Senate sent back Thursday also stripped language making medical marijuana tax exempt, Rodrigues said from the beginning the House wanted to include in its bill.

The amendment the House adopted Friday put the tax exemption back in place, but with a sunset provision. Rodrigues took a shot at the Senate, saying he thought the cost of the tax exemption would be shared across the both chambers, but it “appears the Senate has spent all of the money on member projects.”

Legislative inaction now leaves the fate of implementation in the hands of the Department of Health. Under the constitutional amendment, the department has until July to put rules in places.

Senate President Joe Negron said it would have been preferable for the Legislature to act.

“This is an industry that will grow, based on what we see happening in other states,” he said. “I would expect that you will regularly see that issue addressed. And I would expect that the next legislative session will be no exception.”

Bradley said he expects the issue will “be a hot topic when we return and do our business next year.”

“We’ll get there. If we’ve learned anything about these constitutional amendments, whether the Legislature acts or not is irrelevant,” he said. “There will be court challenges, because people will not like what we did when we act, and they won’t like our inaction either. So I would expect court challenges no matter what we did.”

__ Staff writer Michael Moline contributed to this.

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


  • Homer Salisbury

    May 5, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    If the Florida Senate, House or health department wants to Control who or how “PATIENTS” can use Cannabis and not leave it up to the individual and their doctor the only thing I can say is they should be held liable for every needless death in the state of Florida.

    FACT’S :
    overdose deaths 2013 state of Florida, 2,474. Overdose deaths 2014 State of Florida 2,634 increase of 160 deaths. NOTE: CDC does not show yet OD Deaths for 2015 to present. I am sure the number is increasing.
    “UPDATE” Jacksonville Florida ABC Sun Coast News May 2017.
    Reported 544 people died of overdose deaths in Jacksonville alone. They also investigated the claim “Finding It to be True” that states that instituted a medical marijuana program saw a significant decline in the number of OVERDOSE DEATHS and prescription drugs issued through the Medicare program. (also see New study by University of Georgia researchers. The study, led by W. David Bradford and published in the journal Health Affairs)
    WE ARE NOT TALKING about JUNKIES or HIPPIES HERE We are talking about SENIORS “MEDICARE PROGRAM” GRANDMOTHERS AND GRANDFATHERS. IF ABC Sun Coast News did a follow-up story they would find that most of the States that had the more Liberal Laws had the best Results in combating the Narcotic Epidemic.

    NBC NEWS MAY 4 2017
    ” Rick Scott governor of Florida has officially declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency”. The article also states “Scott had been under increasing pressure from lawmakers to do something about the epidemic”. BUT THE SAME LAWMAKERS Played the MONEY GAMES with The best answer to combat Addiction and show it’s compassion “FOR THE PEOPLE”.
    Instead it’s all about, campaign donations, greed, Prohibitionists, Florida’s Cartel Nursery’s, drug company’s and a well known Florida food and drug chain…. the list goes on. I am just an old Farm Boy and was taught that hard work and common sense would always get me through LIFE. The one thing that I remember on our living room wall was a picture of a cow standing on its own teat with tears in It’s eyes. The caption on the picture read “DON’T JUST STAND THERE DO SOMETHING” Except for a minute minority, Sen. Jeff Clemens and Sen. Jeff Brandies come to mind.


    To John Morgan;
    Start the Lawsuits and make sure I get one of the first YARD SIGNS that read, JOHN MORGAN FOR GOVERNOR “A GOVERNOR FOR THE PEOPLE”

  • James heath

    May 7, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Please , just let me grow my 6 plants for the year ,and leave me alone !!!

  • Bob Dakota

    May 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you, thank you the wicked bill is dead. No bill is better than a bad bill. My fear is how will the corrupt politicians like Rodrigues and Bradley intimidate and bully the DOH to bend to their will and not the “will of the people” The DOH held the meeting to hear “We the People” the question is they heard but did they listen? Or are they going to follow the path of the pay to play politicians and ignore the people of Florida? Hopefully they will follow their on recommendation they released on October 2015 – Florida Department of Health “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” Constitutional Amendment Analysis, google it. Free markets will deliver the quality, quantity, education, pricing and access Floridians want and need. Let me and my doctor decide what is in my best interest. The 71% of us that voted for amendment 2 need to be vigilant and contact the DOH to make sure they follow the path that is best for Floridians. DOH you heard us now listen and understand what we said to you in your meetings.

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