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Lawmakers tackle medical marijuana bills

By Maya Jean-Charles I Staff Reporter
On February 28, 2019

Medical Cannabis Poster.
Photo courtesy of Everydayhealth

Two years after the legalization of marijuana in Florida failed in 2014, voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative on November 8, 2016.

Known as Amendment 2, the law authorizes the use of medical marijuana by Floridians with debilitating illnesses.

But the Florida House and Senate have yet to agree on whether of not medical marijuana can be smoked, despite a court ruling that said the state had overstepped its authority when it passed legislation outlawing smoking medical marijuana.

Ron DeSantis, the state’s newly elected governor, has made it clear he wants a bill that makes it legal to smoke medical marijuana, and his position may be having an influence.

The House Appropriations Committee last week eliminated a proposal that would have restricted medical marijuana dispensaries from selling pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes with filters.

After making the change, the committee approved the House version of the marijuana bill (HB 7015). But unlike the Senate’s bill, the House version would not allow dispensaries to sell other whole-flower products.

Last year the high-profile attorney John Morgan sued the state of Florida because he believes that banning the smoking of medical marijuana is unconstitutional. Later the judge ruled in his favor, allowing the sale of medical marijuana.

Previous Governor Rick Scott and his administration appealed the judge’s ruling. DeSantis announced that his administration has decided to drop the appeal initiated by the Scott administration.

DeSantis has given state lawmakers until March 15 — 10 days after the 2019 legislative session begins — to address the smoking ban, which was included in a sweeping 2017 law aimed at implementing a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.

Mary Beth Buchanan is an employee at a local medical marijuana pharmacy in Tallahassee.

 “I did not believe in the use of medical marijuana early on because I thought it was a gateway drug,” said Buchanan.

After working at Medcan she completely changed her perceptive on medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is helping so many people in a positive way, it is organic and non-addictive,” she said.

On Friday, Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, filed a reciprocity bill (SB 1328) after Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, and Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores, filed a similar measure (HB 557) last month.

Under both bills, medical-marijuana identification cards issued by other states to patients and caregivers would have the same authority as identification cards issued to Florida residents who are registered to receive medical cannabis.

The Senate bill also would require the Florida Department of Health to enter into a registry physician certifications about the types of marijuana and delivery devices recommended for the out-of-state residents.

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