Lawmakers Sign Off On Florida Medical Marijuana Deal

June 10, 2017

Florida will have 10 additional marijuana operators — more than double the number of the state’s current vendors — within four months, under a medical marijuana proposal approved by lawmakers Friday.

The Legislature signed off on the compromise measure, which limits each marijuana company to 25 retail stores across the state, after failing to reach consensus during this spring’s regular legislative session on how to implement a medical-marijuana constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

Back in town this week for a three-day special session originally focused on funding for education and economic development, lawmakers — under intense pressure to revisit the marijuana issue — scurried to iron out differences that blew up a deal during the regular session.

After it became apparent that Republican legislative leaders were close to sealing a deal on the pot bill, Gov. Rick Scott added it to the special session, which ended late Friday afternoon.

A disagreement about how many dispensaries the pot operators should be allowed to run caused a potential deal to collapse six weeks ago.

The Senate had wanted to limit the number of retail outlets to 15 per operator, arguing that such a cap would give new businesses time to ramp up and compete with the state’s already active seven marijuana vendors. The House, meanwhile, preferred a much more expansive approach, with a cap of up to 100.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, who shepherded the measure through his chamber, told colleagues Friday that lawmakers “have a responsibility and a duty” to implement the amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters, or else the regulatory framework would be decided by the courts.

The constitutional amendment made medical marijuana legal for what is expected to be hundreds of thousands of patients with debilitating conditions. That is a dramatic increase from the limited types of patients who have access to cannabis under laws passed in 2014 and 2016.

“The House did not get everything the House wanted and the Senate did not get everything the Senate wanted,” but the compromise bill is one “that both of us can live with and is actually very good policy,” Rodrigues, R-Estero, said before the House’s 103-9 vote in favor of the proposal (SB 8-A) Friday afternoon. The Senate later signed off on the measure with a 29-6 vote.

The legislation would allow local governments to ban marijuana storefront operations. But if retail outlets are permitted, cities and counties couldn’t impose limits on the number of storefronts, disparagingly called “pot shops” by critics.

Sen. Rob Bradley, who has been a key figure in the development of medical marijuana legislation for the past three years, acknowledged that the local government issue was sticky for some county officials as well as some “incumbent” marijuana operators.

But an even bigger source of contention — especially for Democrats — is that the bill bans smoking marijuana products.

Supporters of the constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 2, insist that it included a provision that permits smoking. That provision spelled out where smoking is banned.

“Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place,” the amendment reads.

House and Senate Republican leaders have refused to allow patients to smoke marijuana as a treatment option, citing a number of reasons, including concerns expressed by law enforcement officials.

But Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who largely bankrolled the amendment, has pledged to take the state to court over the issue.

“I do care about smoke, and I will sue them because of that,” Morgan, who is mulling a run for governor, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. “It clearly was called for in the amendment, and so what they’ve done for me is allowed me to step back up on my soapbox and go get what the people of Florida wanted when they passed this bill with 71 percent.”

Morgan said the language in the amendment was intended to quash the specter of people smoking pot on the street.

“It was a way to put a sock in the mouth of these bulls— artists who were saying that,” he said.

Morgan brushed off questions posed by some lawmakers about whether the amendment expressly permits smoking, saying a 3-year-old “can figure out if you’re not allowed to smoke in public, what does that mean? You are allowed to smoke in private.”

“A judge and a jury will understand this perfectly,” he said.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida


18 Responses to “Lawmakers Sign Off On Florida Medical Marijuana Deal”

  1. dennis orre on June 15th, 2017 12:09 pm

    After 47 years of daily inhalation for PTSD from my time in Vietnam it is the only product that allows me to close my eyes and get some rest with out all the side affects that the drugs have. Believe what you want but some of the facts for autism and seizures are helping and how the closed minded do not want to see this works. Sorry for your ignorance.

  2. Nod on June 13th, 2017 1:14 pm

    I Don’t drink or smoke or do illegal drugs or abuse prescription meds. If medical pot will help someone i do not have a problem with that. But those who smoke it just to get high i oppose. The same with all drugs including alcohol. Just don’t come around me. The smell of pot makes me nauseous. IT STINKS WORSE THAN A SKUNK.

    I know pot will never be gotten rid of so for those who need that crutch we should make it legal and tax the heck out of it.

  3. JC on June 13th, 2017 12:10 pm

    You Drunks kill me!!! Lol at ALL

  4. joe mama on June 13th, 2017 8:44 am

    weve been at war with a plant for 100 years and the damn plant is still winning! LOL give it up. stop trying to regulate in ANY way

  5. joe mama on June 13th, 2017 8:42 am

    Lords knows we are all just dying to get all legal and above the table now. We definitely want to be in compliance with the rules our masters set forth for us. We definitely want to pay double at the dispensary for an inferior product compared to what we can get from the dope man. LOL If you think these people will EVER have control over mary jane your sadly mistaken.

  6. JC on June 13th, 2017 6:40 am

    I love that nobody has a problem with all the man made ‘drugs.’ Cigs,(not tobacco) Narcotics, Alcohol… all able to be attained w ease by someone behind the wheel of a 2000 lb missile. But a plant that grows naturally in places. Not chemically altered by man. Didn’t say not engineered, but then so is the corn and beans and fruit you eat. Wake up. If it helps someone like my Father regain some of his appetite after a serious round of chemo… WHAT IS THAT TO YOU?!

    Potheads?? you are part of the problem. If that label separates me from nod, I’ll take it.

  7. nod on June 12th, 2017 6:23 pm

    Hate to bust your bubble brian but the pot you smoke to get high is not the same type that is used in medical research. Would you support pot for the medical value only with the part that gets you high taken out?

  8. nod on June 12th, 2017 9:56 am

    You potheads kill me. Lol :-@all

  9. Brian George on June 12th, 2017 4:44 am


    Hate to burst your bubble but the alcohol used in hospitals is not the same kind you drink….

  10. Matchbox on June 11th, 2017 11:00 pm

    @nod marijuanna has been scientifically proven to shrink cancerous tumors…so please educate yourself…@Chris I agree with you completely…

  11. nod on June 11th, 2017 12:37 am

    @chris drinking alcohol and getting drunk and driving is very bad. Smoking pot and getting high and driving is very bad. Alcohol is used in all hospitals so it is not bad just misused. Pot does not cure anything. Medical use for palliative treat is good. Smoking and getting high is bad. If we have one bad thing why add another.

  12. Mr reality on June 11th, 2017 12:05 am

    The people by a big majority spoke…anyone in the way of moving forward should be arrested…its time we hold these people personally responsible. Just like judges. We need to hold them personally responsible..i

  13. Chris on June 10th, 2017 6:39 pm

    I still am dumbfounded how its ok to have a bar on every corner, a huge proven killer alcohol not to mention DUIs!
    Or cigarettes sold everywhere another proven killer!
    Both are a type of drug, both highly addictive.
    Marijuana has never been proven to kill, yet is being proven to heal and help sick people for a huge list of medical issues, a huge one, Seizures.
    Folks treat it like its 1920s still.
    Seems quite stupid, one kills but its ok, one does not kill and even helps but its Evil and bad, educate yourself quit being part of the problem.

  14. Spencer on June 10th, 2017 5:19 pm

    So does this mean Dr’s can decide the strength of medical marijuana to prescribe or are they limited to low dose only.

  15. randy on June 10th, 2017 3:25 pm

    Just another drug

  16. Phil on June 10th, 2017 2:52 pm

    I wonder if “Big Pharma” ever helped anyone? You would think that these pharmaceutical companies were in it just for the money, that they too would be getting into the pot biz. Anyone that likes to demonize the pharmaceutical industry for bring life saving drugs to market, should exempt themselves from using any pharmaceutical product, just on principal. But something tells Phil, that those people are just blowing smoke, and would be thankful to take a pill that would make them live longer.

    Thank goodness for these companies and there efforts.
    Phil for keeping it real

  17. Tiffaney Conner on June 10th, 2017 11:04 am

    Well written article and its about time we moved forward on this Florida! … and we totally support John Morgan!

  18. Reality Check on June 10th, 2017 7:32 am

    That’s odd, the state didn’t limit the number of pharmacies in the state. Where’s that capitalistic free market? Opioids, which is a problem sweeping across the nation, can now be found on every street corner via CVS and Walgreens. Yet, there is no cap on the number of stores they have. I guess when you’re a major politician backed by Big Pharma, you have to do whatever it takes to stomp out competition.

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