Florida lawmakers facing pressure to call special session on medical marijuana
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) —
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has joined the growing number of those calling for a special legislative session to finalize rules for implementing the state’s medical marijuana amendment.
Corcoran said Wednesday that discussions have started, and he would like to have it as soon as possible. If a special session isn’t held, the Department of Health would need to come up with rules for Amendment 2 by July 3 and have them implemented by October.
“To just leave it to bureaucrats sitting over at the Department of Health I think would be a gross injustice,” he said during an interview on Tallahassee radio station WFLA-FM.
The amendment allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments It was enacted Jan. 3 after 71 percent of voters approved it last November.
Senate President Joe Negron said when the regular session concluded that the Legislature has a responsibility to be involved in implementing the rules
Orlando attorney John Morgan, who lobbied for Amendment 2s passage through the group United for Care, said Tuesday that Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders have an obligation to convene a special session so that they can complete the work.
“Government in Florida is controlled by one party. What you’ve got to understand is medical marijuana is not an issue of party. Diseases don’t pick political parties,” Morgan said in a video . “It was all about money in the end and not about you.”
Scott said through a spokesperson that his office continues to review all options.
The Department of Health continues to review public comments while developing proposed rules. Litigation is expected over whatever rules the department comes up with, based on its rulemaking history. One challenge remains in the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings over the 2015 process of awarding licenses for cannabis cultivation and distribution.
The House and Senate agreed on most of the bill for Amendment 2, but late in session they could not agree on how many retail dispensaries a medical marijuana treatment center could operate.
After the bill failed to pass, Morgan voiced his frustration with the process on social media. He later told The Associated Press that he posted the video to get his complete thoughts before the public.
“The video was posted in order to get the focus back on the people and getting something passed,” he said. “We’ve had our food fights, now is the time to move forward. The whole thing is the people who need the marijuana don’t give a damn about the caps.”
Morgan said he liked some parts of the proposed bill, but he would have sued since the bill did not allow for smoking as one of the ways patients could use marijuana. Amendment 2 states that the only place where smoking is not allowed is public spaces.
He also had some concerns about the definitions of chronic pain. The bill would have allowed those who suffer chronic pain related to one of 10 qualifying conditions to receive either low-THC cannabis or full strength medical marijuana.
Currently, low-THC and non-smoked cannabis can be used by patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms. The law was expanded last year to include patients with terminal conditions. It also allowed them to use more potent strains.