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House Balks at Total Repeal of Pot-Smoking Ban

February 7, 2019 - 6:00am

Florida House leaders have rolled out a proposal that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, but only after going through what one critic called a “bureaucratic mess of red tape.”

The House proposal, released Tuesday afternoon, would require doctors get the approval of a “case review panel” before they could order smokable marijuana for patients.

Under a Senate plan approved by a key committee Monday, patients would have to see two doctors before being allowed to smoke, adding to out-of-pocket costs.

Revamped Supreme Court Rejects Minimum Wage Case

February 6, 2019 - 6:00am

In the first major demonstration of an ideological shift on the revamped Florida Supreme Court, justices Tuesday refused to consider an appeal in a Miami Beach minimum-wage lawsuit that a former liberal-leaning majority of the court had scheduled to hear next month.

The move by the now-conservative majority was a victory for business groups who have fought an ordinance that Miami Beach passed in 2016 to raise the minimum wage locally. The Supreme Court effectively let stand lower-court decisions that blocked the ordinance.

Judge Rejects Cap on Marijuana Dispensaries

February 5, 2019 - 8:30am

Siding with Florida’s largest cannabis operator, a circuit judge for the second time struck down a law capping the number of dispensaries medical marijuana businesses can run.

The limit on the number of retail storefronts was included in a 2017 law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

But Quincy-based Trulieve challenged the provision, arguing the restriction “arbitrarily impairs product availability and safety” and “unfairly penalizes” pot providers.

Weekly Roundup: Spreading the (Budget) Love

February 2, 2019 - 7:30am

Showing no signs of taming a ferocious debut as Florida’s chief of state, Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off February with a $91.3 billion spending plan padded with a little something for everyone.

The governor’s budget proposal --- the largest in state history --- boosts funding for public schools, pumps money into water projects and trims taxes.

For those whose eyes glaze over when they encounter the words “budget,” DeSantis provided plenty of other fodder this week.

Speaker Oliva Up on Free-Market, Down on Smokable Medical Marijuana

February 1, 2019 - 9:00am

He’s not calling it a cartel, as Gov. Ron DeSantis did.

But House Speaker José Oliva acknowledged this week that the state’s “vertically integrated” medical marijuana system --- which requires operators to grow, process and dispense cannabis and related products --- “isn’t terribly free market.”

“I couldn’t possibly be a defender of free markets and call that structure a free market,” the Miami Lakes Republican, who made his fortune in the cigar business, told reporters Wednesday at an Associated Press event at the Capitol.

DeSantis Still on Board with Ending Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

January 30, 2019 - 9:30am

Gov. Ron DeSantis still wants to eliminate Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, but he’s walked back his opposition to a state system that resulted in what the new governor this month called a cannabis “cartel.”

Speaking to reporters following Tuesday’s state Cabinet meeting, DeSantis reiterated his insistence that the Legislature do away with the smoking prohibition, saying it “ran afoul” of a 2016 voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

Weekly Roundup: Quickly Moving On

January 26, 2019 - 6:00am

“One of the hallmarks of our republic is the electorate’s trust in our elections.”

Those were the words written by Mike Ertel in a memo to his boss, Gov. Ron DeSantis, just a week before he was forced to quit his job as secretary of state after a newspaper published photos of Ertel wearing blackface while dressed up for Halloween in 2005 as a female Hurricane Katrina victim.

Five Questions for ACLU Florida's Micah Kubic

January 22, 2019 - 6:00am
Micah Kubic

Micah Kubic faced what he called the “terrifying” challenge of replacing Howard Simon as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida late last year.

Weekly Roundup: Calling 'Em Like He Sees 'Em

January 19, 2019 - 6:00am
Ron DeSantis

He’s been on the job for just a handful of days, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has already burnished his brand as a no-nonsense chief of state asserting his authority via pink slips, ultimatums and generally rocking the boat from one end of the state to the other.

DeSantis Presses Lawmakers for Medical Marijuana Changes

January 18, 2019 - 6:00am

Saying they failed to heed the will of voters, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida lawmakers Thursday to eliminate a ban on smokable medical marijuana and, if they don’t comply, threatened to drop the state’s appeal of a court ruling that found the prohibition ran afoul of a 2016 constitutional amendment.


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