Legislature back on path to passing medical marijuana bill

Legislature back on path to passing medical marijuana bill

"I'm happy that it got added to the call for the special session", Rodrigues said.

Florida legislators are returning to the state Capitol for a three-day special session.

Legislators haven't been able to agree on how many retail dispensaries a medical marijuana treatment center should be allowed to open and whether cannabis should be subject to sales tax.

The amendment, approved by 71 percent of voters in November, expands legal use beyond the limited prescriptions for low-strength marijuana allowed under a 2014 law.

Lawmakers have been under intense pressure to resolve the issue during the special session after a potential medical-marijuana deal blew up at the end of the regular session.

If lawmakers aren't able to co-create an effective plan, it will fall to the Department of Health to create the rules and regulations.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, R- Fleming Island: "On those minor disagreements, we have made great progress".

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott cleared the way for lawmakers to vote on the legislation, which has broad support among the rank-and-file members of the House and Senate.

Legalization advocate John Morgan at a 2014 event supporting medical marijuana.

The state now has seven licensed marijuana vendors, and the agreement between House and Senate leaders would require health officials to approve 10 new operators by October 3.

Sources close to the process told Sunshine State News the legislation would cap MMTCs at 25 retail facilities, which would include a grandfathering provision for existing stores and leaseholds. "The critical need is for the House and Senate to send a bill to the governor so that patient access can expand in Florida".

If the legislation passes, lawmakers want the Department of Health to grant 10 new licenses, first to qualified nurseries that tried to get a license previously but were beaten out for the license by another company.

Neither the Legislature's proposal nor the constitutional amendment allows patients to access medical marijuana based on chronic pain alone.

"It accomplishes (the Senate's) goal of restraining the growth initially to see how the market will develop, and then it gives us the ability to make a determination as a Legislature if that has accomplished its goal and if it needs to continue", he said. Before the House vote, Rodrigues submitted another amendment, increasing the cap to 100 facilities.

One of the key sticking points between the House and Senate had involved how many retail outlets the state's licensed medical-marijuana operators could run.

"I think it's important that the Legislature set the framework for the medical marijuana system in the state of Florida rather than leave it to bureaucrats".

"It emerged very late in the session", Rodrigues said.

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