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Fla. lawmakers under pressure to implement medical marijuana legislation

13 May 2017

Amid growing demands for a special session on medical marijuana and harsh criticism of lawmakers' failure to reach agreement on the issue, Senate President Joe Negron sent a memo to his members Thursday seeking input on the possibility of sealing a deal with the House.

Sen. Rob Bradley, who was the Senate's lead marijuana negotiator during session, also said he preferred that the Legislature get involved before next year's session starts in January.

Miami, and the Florida News Service, former U.S. Rep. turned gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is calling for the Florida legislature to hold a special session to enact the medical marijuana legalization amendment overwhelmingly passed by Florida voters in 2016.

The governor doesn't need to call a special session for one to happen.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who lobbied for Amendment 2's passage through the group United for Care, said it is Scott's obligation to convene a special session so that the Legislature can finish work on a bill putting the enacting rules in place.

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Negron gave no indication he was willing to back down from his stance that the state must limit the number of "pot shops" as part of the rollout of the constitutional amendment, which passed in November with more than 71 percent of the vote and could make Florida one of the most lucrative medical marijuana markets in the country.

"They know why they wanted I am calling on Governor Scott to call a special session", said Morgan.

"Government in Florida is controlled by one party. Diseases don't pick political parties", Morgan said in a video.

Scott said through a spokesperson that his office continues to review all options.

After the bill failed to pass, Morgan voiced his frustration with the process on social media. While patients are prohibited by current law from smoking cannabis products, the bud-like product can easily be used in joints, bongs or pipes.

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The state later expanded the use of medicinal marijuana through another Brandes measure, the "Right to Try Act", that includes patients suffering intractable pain and loss of appetite from terminal illnesses. The issue that divided the House and Senate was how many dispensaries each licensee could operate.

It will now be up to the Department of Health to come up with rules for patients, caregivers, doctors and treatment centers by July 3 and have them implemented by October. He later told The Associated Press that he posted the video to get his complete thoughts before the public.

In the video posted to Twitter, Morgan says it's time to put people before profits. Litigation is expected over whatever rules the department comes up with, based on its rulemaking history.

He also had some concerns about the definitions of chronic pain. "We should ensure medical marijuana is readily accessible to any Floridian who suffers from an enumerated debilitating condition, as determined by a licensed Florida physician".

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Fla. lawmakers under pressure to implement medical marijuana legislation