Will Lawmakers Take Another Toke on Medical Marijuana Legislation?

by | Jun 5, 2017

 

The man who led the campaign to pass the medical marijuana amendment in Florida says it will be a “tremendous political miscalculation” on the part of legislative leaders if they don’t address implementing the amendment during this week’s special session.

“How in the hell are these folks coming back to Tallahassee without considering the medical marijuana issue is beyond me,” said Ben Pollara, the executive director of Florida for Care. “I don’t know how they get through this session without addressing the issue.”

Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran have both said they support a special session to implement the amendment which was passed by more than 71 percent of the voters in November.

But on Friday, when Negron, Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott announced an agreement to hold a special session to address budget issues this week, the medical marijuana issue was left off the agenda.

The main sticking point continues to be how many dispensaries each medical marijuana operator would be allowed to run. The Senate took a more conservative approach during the regular session and set the limit at 15 dispensaries per operator. The House plan was less restrictive, allowing up to 100 storefronts.

Finding a happy medium between those two numbers has so far alluded the two chambers.

In a memo to House members on Friday regarding this week’s special session, Corcoran said he has conveyed to the Senate that “this is an issue we believe must be addressed and that we are prepared to expand the call to address the implementation of the constitutional amendment approved by the voters during the 2016 election.”

If an agreement on implementing the amendment isn’t reached this week, the matter could be addressed in another special session within the next month. Some legislators are skeptical if a resolution can’t be reached now that a resolution could be ready in a matter of weeks.

If the two chambers are unable to work out their differences, the job of writing the rules implementing the medical marijuana amendment would fall on the staff of the Florida Department of Health.

Many lawmakers believe it’s too big of an issue for the Legislature not to handle.

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