It appears that the Florida Legislature will take up the medical marijuana amendment after all.
Gov. Rick Scott expanded the call of this week’s special session to include a bill implementing the amendment.
“Medical marijuana was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters in 2016, and I believe that it is the role of the Florida Legislature to determine how to best implement this approved constitutional amendment,” said Scott. “I am glad that both the Florida Senate and House are moving toward crafting legislation to help patients, and I have added medical marijuana to the call for special session.”
An agreement was reached between House and Senate negotiators late Tuesday evening.
“This patient-first legislation will expand access to this medicine, while ensuring safety through a unified regulatory structure for each component of the process from cultivation to consumption,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, Senate’s lead negotiator.
Under the agreement, an additional 10 marijuana growers will be licensed this year. That’s in addition to the seven growers that have already been licensed under the existing program. Five of the new licenses would go to previous applicants that had the next highest qualifying score in each of the state’s five regions.
The other five licenses would go to new applicants–including an African-American grower and two facilities that are or were used for “the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses and will use or convert the facility or facilities for the processing of marijuana.”
“We’ve heard that there’s some plants in our state and some old-line businesses that it would be a good shot in the arm for Florida-grown companies to have a chance to compete in this marketplace,” Bradley said. “They certainly have a background in growing and it’s a good fit as we try to focus on Florida-grown businesses.”
Each grower will be allowed to operate 25 dispensaries across the state through 2020 when the cap sunsets and lawmakers can revisit the issue of how many dispensaries are appropriate for each grower to operate.
The number of storefronts was a major sticking point between the two chambers. The Senate wanted a more conservative strategy; whereas, the House wanted to take a more open, free market approach.