Marijuana in Florida, a burning question –

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, speaks to the media during a pre-legislative news conference on Wednesday.(Photo: AP)

Florida lawmakers are again rolling out legislation in support of medicinal and recreational marijuana use, and decriminalization of the drug that has gained a lot of attention in the past year.
Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg filed medical marijuana legislation this week that would offer marijuana to patients suffering from 14 different ailments.
The proposal lays out a regulatory structure for patients, doctors, growers and retail stores, and allows patients marijuana if their doctor approves an appropriate need.
Physician-qualified patients would include those with cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Also included would be medical conditions that produce chronic symptoms of wasting, pain, nausea, seizures or muscle spasms. The proposal requires the Department of Health to start issuing cultivation licenses by March 1, 2016 and retail licenses by July of the same year.
The strict regulatory framework lays out licensing fees. It also takes into account local governments adverse to retail marijuana shops and directs county commissions to determine the “number and location of any retail facilities that may be located within the county.”
The Florida Sheriff’s Association, which stood firmly against Amendment 2, has not yet taken a stance on the Republican-sponsored measure, a spokeswoman said, but the group will be discussing it early this week during an annual legislative planning meeting.
Brandes’ legislation (SB 528) comes at a time when the backers of a widely-voted-for but rejected constitutional amendment are working to get the question of whether to approve medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot and the Department of Health is still wading through the regulatory process of non–euphoric marijuana laws passed last year.
The agency has not yet developed regulations for the Charlotte’s Web marijuana strain, largely because of the challenges to the requirement that only five nurseries in the state grow and develop the marijuana that will become medicine.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said Wednesday he is hearing some frustration with the implementation of Charlotte’s Web, but Brandes’ expansive bill “has obviously started some dialogue.”
“The issue will become are we trying to address how slow the (Department of Health) has moved or are we going the next step, which is potential expansion of Charlotte’ …Read More