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House, Senate Pass Competing Bills to Regulate Medical Marijuana

April 18, 2017 - 6:15pm

Two competing bills to regulate Florida’s newly-expanded medical marijuana industry are set to sail through their final committee stops. On Tuesday, a House and Senate committee passed their respective bills to regulate the medical marijuana industry, pushing the measures one step closer to a final vote in each chamber.

The battle over the future of medical marijuana has been one of the most contentious, complicated and highly publicized issues of the 2017 legislative session. 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services heard the Senate bill, SB 406, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, on Tuesday, passing the measure by a vote of 8-1.

Dozens of people traveled for hundreds of miles to speak out on the bill and the drama only intensified after a man convulsed in a seizure during the last fifteen minutes of the hearing.

Meeting attendees scrambled to help the man, who reportedly was present on behalf of an epilepsy group.

“He can’t get the only medicine that works,” the unnamed man’s wife reportedly said as he was wheeled away by paramedics.

The scene was a dramatic ending to the hearing, which largely centered around providing much-needed relief to patients suffering debilitating diseases like epilepsy, HIV and AIDS.

Bradley’s bill is seen as a less restrictive proposal and would increase the cap on the number of marijuana dispensaries, expanding the number of businesses by five more when the state has 250,000 patients, 350,000 patients, 400,000 patients and then every 100,000 thereafter.  

SB 406 would also create a coalition for medical marijuana research through Tampa’s H. Lee Moffitt Center and Research Institute, one of the top medical research centers in the state.

The coalition would conduct “rigorous scientific research,” and “guide policy” for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for medical marijuana. 

Nonresidents would also be allowed to apply to receive medical marijuana in Florida as long as they are able to get medical marijuana in their home state and qualify in Florida. 

Bradley’s bill would also require Department of Health to have computer software system to track marijuana from “seed to sale,” following pot as it’s planted and distributed to patients statewide.

Earlier in the hearing, the committee passed an amendment from Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, to put a cap on the number of retail facilities dispensing marijuana. 

Meanwhile, House lawmakers are headed in the opposite direction, considering a much more restrictive proposal to regulate medical pot. That measure, HB 1397, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would ban smokeable marijuana as well as prohibit edibles and vaping. 

It appears Rodrigues and state reps could budge on that part of the bill, however. Rodrigues said Tuesday morning that vaping and edible marijuana would be up for negotiation with the Senate, leaving open the possibility of changing the bill at the last-minute to reach an agreement on medical marijuana.

“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 House bill would also limit the number of growers in the state, resulting in far fewer growers.

Supporters of Rodrigues’ bill say it’s a critical step in the right direction for a “healthy” implementation of medical marijuana.

Groups like the Drug Free America Foundation, backed by anti-medical pot billionaire Mel Sembler, praised HB 1397 for limiting ways to ingest pot since they say the results of high-THC medication could be disastrous.

“We support Rodrigues’ bill,” Calvina Fay, executive director of DFAF told Sunshine State News Monday. “He has covered many of our concerns and there are things in Sen. Bradley’s bill that aren’t quite as tight. There are loopholes.”

Fay told SSN DFAF was concerned there would be widespread abuse of the drug if the industry was not tightly regulated. 

“We don’t want it to turn into a free for all where anybody that wants marijuana can get marijuana,” she said. “We don’t want it so broadly implemented that anybody and everybody can get it. We want to see it implemented in a tightly restricted responsible manner where it’s treated like a medicine rather than a recreational drug.”

When it came to the differences between the two bills, Fay and DFAF find Bradley’s bill particularly concerning since they believe it’s more lenient than HB 1397.

“[Bradley] treats [marijuana] as less of a medicine than Rodrigues does,” Fay said.

The two bills each have one committee stop left before heading to the House and Senate floor.  




Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen



It's long past time that good ole' Calvina Fay and her DFA Cannabis Warriors crawl back underneath the rock they came out from, and hopefully never emerge again. Since when does the clear loser on A2 get to dictate the terms of the legislation that the amendment authorizes?. She, and her buddies Sembler and the rest of the lowlifes at DFA still behave as if Amendment 2 was voted down. Rather than accept defeat gracefully, this loser crew keeps coming back for more knowing that their cause is lost. Not that I would expect any kind of class from these wrong-headed pinheads...

Be careful about passing any weed bill, Florida. What was passed in California is a disaster. As a medicine, I'm all for it for those who are suffering. Neither bill presented this session is a good bill. Hold off until they can get it right and controlled for only medical use.

Just because you say it twice doesn't mean it going to come true. What California disaster do you speak of? Because everything I'm reading California and Colorado are ready to fight the federal government if they try to unforced the laws. Lynn your time to do something about it was back in November and the opposition lost. Sit back enjoy your glass of wine and go along for the ride.

I second that go drink your wine and whine.

Be careful about passing any weed bill, Florida. What was passed in California is a disaster. As a medicine, I'm all for it for those who are suffering. Neither bill presented this session is a good bill. Hold off until they can get it right and controlled for only medical use.

Does Ms Fay realize that anyone can already get marijuana at any time? Where has she been the last 50 years?

Neither bill is acceptable. Lawmakers are going to pass a law that doesn't implement A2 as intended. Then they will use taxpayers dollars to fight to keep the unconstitutional law. Implement A2 as intended or suffer the consequences. Get out from between a Doctor and Patient. Allow Patients to decide how to medicate. Open the market and allow homegrows. 71% is the mandate politicians never get, A2 did. Get out of the way, or be replaced

Our corrupt Florida Government is not listening to the people ,WE voted in November and won 71 % voted yes for MARIJUANA. OUR politicians that are supposed to be for the people ,instead they are for the corporations Big Pharma, Alchohol , and people against marijuana, are taking large sums of money from lobbys to vote against Florida having MEDICAL MARIJUANA. We should be allowed to consume marijuana in ALL forms that WE wish to consume, otherwise the BLACK MARKET will continue to thrive either way WE win !!!

Judges are, for the most part, failed lawyers. Politicians are failed lawyers or business people that couldn't find a judgeship. If you took every pondscum sucking politician in Tallahassee that ever did a line of blow while drinking whiskey with a woman other than his wife, the line would stretch from the capitol to Miami. If you were to line all of them up that smoked weed it would stretch from the capitol to Miami. One hundred thirty times. Whole thing an insane disgrace but that it what we get when we elect these people. I would rather have the guy that changes the oil in my car represent me than most of what is up there. Want to know what is going on? Follow the money.

I must say, you and anyone associated with HB1397 are complete idiots and should consider getting informed on MMJ. I have MS, my insurance covers 1 drug for MS and the progression of my MS has outgrown this drug. The other available drugs run apporoximatley 5K per month. The drugs for MS DO NOT work and have worse side effects and some that kill by another disease called PML. You people that are against this healing God given plant need to get off of your God ccomplex podium and understand that this was voted on by 71% of Florians that need it. It was very well written out and explained so a 5th grader could understand. Your job is to work for the people of Florida, after all we do vote you in and pay your checks. You don't have the right to interject your beliefs and ideologys. I intend to sue the Florida legislature and the State if you can't do the will of the people. 71% of Floridians can vote you out if you can't do your jobs properly. Mel "the moocher" Sembler has no leg in this fight, he has no problem destroying lives with his casinos. Look at the families that are destroyed by that. Also the lives destroyed by alcohol, yet it's available almost on every street corner. #doyourjob #youcangetvotedout #cannabiscures

An "epilepsy group" participant has a seizure in the last fifteen minutes of the hearing".....( That's what we used to call "Kabuki Theater",... commenced and performed on demand...). "He can't get the only medicine that works", His Wife said. (Well, WHERE has he gotten it prior to this?... From a "dealer"?) [Be careful taxpayers: you might well be buying a "bill of goods"... that comes with "untold, unintended consequences"... One of which may just well be "under the table lagniappes" from Lobbys to political interests... for future campaign coffers.

You just going to have to deal with it. I know coming from your generation it's going to sting a little. I think 71% of Florida is willing to deal with your so called unintended consequences. The reefer madness and fear mongering philosophy isn't going to work anymore. This plant does a lot more good than bad.

BIg PHARMAS/ US Governments opiod drugs ( Oxycotin) kill over 50,000 people a year. It is impossible to overdose on MARIJUANA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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