Anticipation Getting High for Special Session on Medical Marijuana

by | May 11, 2017

After failing to adopt a medical marijuana bill during the regular legislative session, the Legislature is looking at how best to implement Amendment 2 which voters overwhelmingly approved last fall.

Senate President Joe Negron sent out a memorandum to Senate members Thursday morning outlining the issue and seeking input on how best to proceed on the matter.

“The Legislature has a solemn duty to fully and fairly implement Amendment 2, which was passed with the support of over 71 percent of the voters in 2016,” Negron told Senators. “We should ensure medical marijuana is readily accessible to any Floridian who suffers from an enumerated debilitating condition, as determined by a licensed Florida physician.”

A bill implementing Amendment 2 failed to pass during the regular session due to differences on how many dispensaries a medical marijuana treatment center could operate.

“The Senate did not support an unwarranted expansion of treatment centers until patient demand has been established,” Negron added.

Under the proposed implementing bill, the state would have picked seven licensed nurseries to “cultivate, process, transport, and dispense”  the medical marijuana. The issue that divided the House and Senate was how many dispensaries each licensee could operate.

The proposal offered by the House on the final day of the regular session would have capped the number of dispensaries across the state at 100 for each licensed nursery. The Senate wanted to take a more conservative approach setting the cap at 15 dispensaries.

Critics oppose the House plan.They say limiting the number of licensed nurseries and allowing them to operate that many dispensaries essentially amounts to creating a “cartel system of marijuana businesses” in Florida. Ben Pollara, who was one of the backers of Amendment 2, believes the House plan undermines the original intent of the amendment.

“I believe strongly that this cartel system will ultimately harm patient access through high prices, a lack of diverse products, and no true competition,” Pollara said earlier this week in a column for the Sunshine State News.

The Senate President’s memorandum comes a day after House Speaker Richard Corcoran said he supports bringing lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special legislative session to enact an implementing bill.

Sen. Negron had said Monday he would be open to the idea of a special session to deal with the medical marijuana issue.

If the Legislature fails to enact an implementing law it would be up to state Department of Health regulators to write the rules for implementing the amendment. Legislative leaders believe the issue is too important to leave the rulemaking up to staff workers.

1 Comment

  1. Bob Dakota

    First the legislators refused to present a bill that include not only the words but the intent of amendment 2.  Now the politicians want to ignore the constitutional amendment to force a special session in an attempt to pass a bill, any bill to satisfy the special interest groups that have perverted this process. Pay to play is the order of the day.  We need the politicians out of this process, read the amendment that 71% of Floridians voted for in November 2016.  The legislators did not pass a bill now it is up to the department of health to develop the regulations for implementation of amendment 2.  We the people want our doctor to make the decisions on our health not some board in Tallahassee that does not know or care about the qualified patients.  We the people want a free market controlled by our local government to insure access to quality products, education and reasonable pricing which we currently do not have.  Let the local small businesses lead the way to success.  They will generate millions in taxes and create thousands of jobs.  Monopolies created by autocratic politicians do not work and never have work.  

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