Florida Legislature finally passes medical marijuana bill

Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott

When the bill implementing the amendment fell apart late in session, the Senate wanted to limit each treatment center to 15 locations; the House wanted no caps and no sales tax.

The House passed it 108-9 before the Senate voted 29-6.

The Senate invited a new fight with Corcoran by adding new restrictions to its economic development bill (SB 2A), including a specific rate of return on investments and abolishing a new jobs incentive fund in 2019 unless the Legislature keeps it alive. The governor backed the idea ahead of session, but the House calls it a tax increase.

Scott, however, insisted he was still "reviewing" the legislation and has not yet decided what to do.

That led to a last-minute agreement where legislators agreed to spend $60 million on 17 university projects - some of them for large schools such as University of Florida and Florida State University - that had also been vetoed last week by Scott.

Scott's veto total also includes the money that goes to K-through-12 public schools. Enterprise Florida drew criticism as a poorly overseen agency that dispenses corporate welfare, and Visit Florida was seen by some as an unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars. The deal also carved out $85 million for a new Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which was included in the legislation advanced by the Appropriations Committee. Moments before the session ended, he even shook hands with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who had clashed repeatedly with the governor the past few months.

Brandes said the bill should appeal to his Republican colleagues' free-market sensibilities. shouldn't it? "We get you guys all worked up and then we come to a nice, smooth landing".

Scott vetoed most of the higher education projects saying there were not the top priorities of the university or state college systems.

Gov. Rick Scott added medical marijuana to the agenda for the special legislative session that began Wednesday after lawmakers reached a compromise on key elements.

The special session, which is really just overtime needed to settle business that should have been taken care of during the regular session, will cost taxpayers $70,000 a day.

Bradley, R-Fleming Island, stated his intentions to file a bill this week that will honor the will of 72 percent of Florida voters by properly implementing Amendment 2.

"We drove down to the two-yard line, and we weren't able to punch it into a touchdown", Bradley told The News Service of Florida.

The controversial education bill that diverts money to charter schools will pass.

Where exactly the legislation went sideways boiled down to regulatory caps that would have been placed on medical marijuana treatment centers.

Dispensaries would be allowed to advertise their products, but state officials would have to approve all advertisements, and no cartoon characters or marketing techniques aimed at children are permitted.

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, tried to strip most of the money from HB 7069 to boost public school spending $200 higher per student.

The legislation allows patients who suffer chronic pain related to one of 10 qualifying conditions to receive either low-THC cannabis or full strength medical marijuana.

"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. That provision spelled out where smoking is banned.

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