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Florida House Makes Progress on Medical Marijuana Bill

May 3, 2017
The old and new Florida State Capitol buildings in downtown Tallahassee, Florida.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Floridians eligible to receive medical marijuana would have to visit a doctor only once every seven months while the number of treatment centers would more than double under a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues’ bill (HB 1397) — approved 105-9 — would increase patient access to cannabis but supporters of Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana last year, say that even more needs to be done. The amendment, which was enacted on Jan. 3, must be implemented by October, with rules in place by July.

“We have a responsibility to see the amendment is implemented, but we have to do it in such a way that it complies to the guidance we’ve been given by the federal government,” Rodrigues said.

Currently, low-THC and non-smoked cannabis can be used by patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms. The law was expanded last year to include patients with terminal conditions and allowed them to use higher strains.


Florida Officials Clash With Voters Over Medical Cannabis Rules

Sen. Rob Bradley said that the House bill reflects what is in the Senate’s version but that some differences remain. The Senate will start considering the bill on Wednesday.

“We’re really close. The House has spoken but now it is time for us to weigh in and have our dialogue,” Bradley said.

The House’s legislation allows for patients to receive a prescription of three 70-day supplies during a doctor’s visit instead of one for 90 days. Dispensaries would be allowed to expand sales to edibles and vaping products but smoking would still be banned.

It also allows patients with chronic pain to receive pot, but only if it is linked to one of the 10 conditions listed in the amendment.

“The only thing that matters is patient access. We’ve come a long way and it is very close to something that can be reconciled between the House and Senate,” said Stephani Scruggs Bowen of Pensacola, whose husband has epilepsy.

More doctors and caregivers could be certified. Doctors would be certified after completing a two-hour course (it was previously eight) while caregivers would not have to take an exam to receive certification.


Where Are the Medical Marijuana Doctors in Florida? We Mapped Them.

After not allowing for any new medical marijuana treatment centers until there were 150,000 patients, the House’s bill now would have 17 centers by July 1, 2018 — seven current plus 10 new ones — along with four additional licenses for every 100,000 patients registered.

Taylor Patrick Biehl of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida said Rodrigues’ bill has improved dramatically but hopes that it includes a diversity plan for minority and veteran participation that is in the Senate bill.

Ben Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care, says the number of dispensaries isn’t enough and that the bill puts profits over patient access.

“Prices will be high, quality will be low, and choices will be few. The Senate should make significant amendments before sending what is currently a fatally flawed bill back to the House,” he said.

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  • dianehappylife420

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  • Florida really needs to just look at what other states have done with their marijuana laws. Making Cannabis legal is about giving people who are chronically ill quality of life. Florida law makers have had plenty of time to get this bill right, But have legislators who won’t budge, don’t care about the people who put them in their positions. Do it right or you will be gone come November 2018!

  • Annie is absolutely correct. This is about the PATIENT’S, nothing more nothing less. We have voted for a medicine that will help MANY. What this state does NOT think about is the people who need this medicine are almost ALL on Social Security Disability. Our medicine MUST be affordable. AND we have every right to use cannabis in the form that will work for each of us. There is no one method of using cannabis that is going to work for everyone. Everyone’s illnesses are different meaning everyone needs different strains. Different strains work for different people. Different delivery methods work for each patient. Some benefit from vaping, some benefit from smoking, some benefit from edibles, some benefit from ingesting oils. We are ALL different. Keep the prices LOW and affordable for those who NEED it. Give access for different strains and delivery methods for those who need choices. Do it right or you will be VOTED OUT.

  • Johnson