It’s marijuana day in Florida’s Capitol

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s new medical marijuana market will start to take shape Wednesday as a panel of senators workshops five proposals to put the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing the drug into place.
The Senate Health Policy committee, chaired by Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young, will consider issues related to the five proposed bills and hear public comment, the first step toward passing legislation and the first time members of the public will hear what key senators think about how medical marijuana should be implemented.
Voters approved Amendment 2, which opened up the state to medical cannabis, with 71 percent support. By the end of their regular session, the House and Senate are expected to pass a more detailed plan.
But they’re dissatisfied with how the Legislature has progressed, according to a Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll first reported by Politico on Tuesday. It showed that more than half of Amendment 2 supporters though the Legislature was moving too slowly and 40 percent of all voters disapproved of the job they are doing to implement the voters’ will.
When the Health Policy Committee convenes Wednesday afternoon, here are the proposals they will discuss. They will likely be consolidated into a new bill, which the panel is expected to consider at a later date.
▪ SB 406 by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island: Maintains the current system of requiring businesses to both grow and sell cannabis but expands the number of businesses by five when the state has 250,000 patients, 350,000 patients, 400,000 patients and every 100,000 thereafter. It allows edibles but not smoking and lets people buy a 90-day supply. It also allows non-residents of the state, such as those who live here only in winter, to buy cannabis.
▪ SB 614 by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg: A largely open market of growers, dispensaries, labs and delivery companies with no cap on the number of businesses involved, though it limits retail shops to no more than 1 per 25,000 residents. It allows smoking and edibles and lets people buy a 90-day supply of cannabis.
▪ SB 1388 by Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami: Largely modeled after SB 406, this proposal requires independent labs do testing, allows smoking and lets people buy a 45-day supply.
▪ SB 1666 by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens: This plan would maintain the current system but would require 10 new licenses be awarded by October and allow four more for every 25,000 patients. It maintains a provision of existing law allowing only nurseries that have been in business for 30 years to become growers. It allows edibles but not smoking and lets people buy 90-day supplies, including some non-residents of Florida.
▪ SB 1758 by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring: This maintains the existing market, including the 30-year requirement for nurseries, and allows three new licenses be awarded for every 250,000 patients. It allows edibles but not smoking and lets patients have a 45-day supply, including non-residents.

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