This week house lawmakers in Florida are getting ready to vote on a newly-amended bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry, with it being one of the hottest bills the legislative session will most likely happen on Tuesday.
Lawmakers have drastically overhauled a legislative proposal to regulate the Floridian medical marijuana industry on Friday. Putting the house measure, HB 1397, more in line with the less preventive senate bill.
Among the allegations: Wanting to get rid of the 90 day grace period patients have to wait to be prescribed medical cannabis, also reducing training requirements for prescribing doctors as well as allowing edibles and ‘vaping’.
Bill sponsor rep. Ray Rodrigues, hinted several weeks ago that the house lawmakers are willing to budge on edibles and vaping.
“If we can get proper labeling on vaping and edibles done, that is one of the subjects of our negotiation with the Senate,” he said.
The amended bill increases the different use and forms of medical marijuana as long as it is not “ attractive to children”, which is something opponents were extremely worried about when the previous version of the bill was released.
Under the newer bill, Patients who are dealing with chronic pain can be recommended medical marijuana, only if it is linked with another debilitating condition,
The advocates for medical marijuana have explicitly opposed the house proposal, claiming it is too restrictive and for accommodating to anti-drug groups like Drug Free America, who spent millions of dollars trying to hinder amendment 2 last year.
Under HB 1397, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, Florida’s current seven dispensaries have the first shot at selling medical pot. After 150 thousand patients enroll in the program, then the department would open up its second round of dispensaries.
The less restrictive senate version would grandfather the seven current dispensaries and raise the cap on the number of marijuana dispensaries, expanding the number of dispensaries by five more in October and four more every 75 thousand additional patients in the registry.
Medical marijuana has been one of the most highly debated issues through out this years legislative session, but state lawmakers will have to reach an agreement on how to move forward with the regulation befor this legislative session ends.
Last fall over 71 percent of voters in florida approved a consititutional amendment expanding medical marijuana and now thousands of patients are waiting for their next move so they can find relief for their illnesses.
While some have viewed the house’s amendment as a step in the right direction for the future of medicinal marijuana, it still has not dealt with a lot of concerns.
“It’s certainly an improvement over its previous iterations but is still extraordinarily flawed,” said Florida For Care executive director Ben Pollara. “Vaping and edibles should have been allowed, to begin with, and the 90 day wait eliminated at the outset, but I’m nonetheless happy to see those things happen in the amended bill. But the physician certification language is still fatally flawed and HB 1397 firmly maintains the cartel system that ultimately harms patient access.”
Neither the senate nor the house version allowed smokeable marijuana, but amendments authors say smoking in public is not allowed, which would imply it is allowed already. The lack of clarity could result in big problems for patients and can possibly end up being the focus of lawsuits if not corrected properly.