House Ready to Vote on Amended Bill to Regulate Medical Marijuana – Sunshine State News

House lawmakers are ready to vote on a newly-amended bill to regulate Florida’s medical marijuana industry this week, with the vote over one of the hottest bills of the legislative session likely happening Tuesday.

State lawmakers significantly overhauled a legislative proposal to regulate Florida’s medical marijuana industry on Friday, putting the House measure, HB 1397, more in line with the less restrictive Senate bill.

Among the alterations: getting rid of the 90-day waiting period for patients to be prescribed medical cannabis, reducing training requirements for doctors as well as allowing edibles and “vaping.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, had hinted several weeks ago that House lawmakers were willing to budge on edibles and vaping.

“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 amended bill expands the use of medical marijuana in different forms as long as it isn’t “attractive to children,” something opponents were especially concerned about with the previous version of the bill.

Under the new bill, patients with chronic pain can be recommended medical marijuana, but only if it is linked with another debilitating condition — a condition in line with the Senate proposal for the bill.

Medical marijuana advocates had passionately opposed the House proposal, criticizing it for being too restrictive and for accommodating to anti-drug groups like the Drug Free America Foundation, which spent millions of dollars opposing Amendment 2 last year.

Under HB 1397 sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, Florida’s current seven dispensaries would be given first dibs on selling medical pot. After 150,000 patients enroll in the medical marijuana registry, the department would then, and only then, open up licensing to the second round of dispensaries. 

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