After much back and forth this session, the Florida Legislature failed to reach a deal on medical marijuana. Last November, the public voted overwhelmingly in favor of Amendment 2, which allowed for patients to use medical marijuana. After passing Amendment 2 by over 71%, the Florida public believed their voices had been heard. This failure shows an obvious disconnect between the leaders in the state and the voting public, one that may come back to haunt the representatives in 2018 for the House and 2020 for the Senate.
Up to this point, there were a few bills batted around that were less than ideal for the Florida voters, the last of which allowed vaping (check out our article What Are Dabs for more info on vaping) and edibles but banned smoking marijuana. Although, that bill still was at least something and tried to address some key issues, such as the veritable monopoly on growers. In the version that passed the House, HB 1397, there would be 10 new grower’s licenses issued and 1 more for every 100,000 patients.
Advocates Demand Special Session
Some marijuana activists are demanding Rick Scott call the representatives back for a special session to hammer out the finer points and come to an agreement. Even some republicans, like Sen. Rob Bradley, who spearheaded a medical marijuana bill believe the best thing for Florida voters would be the legislators hammering out a deal. That being said, many of them seem to feel it’s not imperative to get it implemented quickly. Bradley’s opinion on the matter was “…the Legislature at some point in time needs to have a bill that implements Amendment 2,” he said Friday. “We’ve provided the basis and the groundwork to get this done eventually. It just isn’t going to be during this session.”
Under the current framework, which was voted on in November, the Florida Department of Health will carry the load of implementing medical marijuana as of July. That being said, cannabis activists still worry about a bureaucratic entity, controlled by anti-medical marijuana governor Rick Scott, being under control of the implementation. The version that Florida will see will likely be highly restrictive and go against what voters came out to support.
Long Fight Ahead
No matter what system comes down from the DOH, there will likely be heavy litigation from the likes of people like John Morgan, an Orlando-area lawyer that spearheaded the medical marijuana movement with the United for Care organization. Morgan has been seemingly testing support for a run for governor next election, with Rick Scott terming out and expected to run for the Senate election again Bill Nelson.
Morgan’s platform for governor will most likely revolve around a narrative that the republicans running the state have not done an adequate job of listening to voters on issues like medical marijuana. By not passing any sort of regulations for the implementation, it’s easy to see how this may resonate with Florida voters.
Voters Should Make Their Voice Heard
Here at Red Eye Chronicle, we support the will of the people in cannabis laws and believe it’s in the best interest to stand up and make your voice heard. These representatives, Rick Scott, the Department of Health, and everyone who is subverting the voters should know that they will be held accountable at the ballot box.
To contact the Florida Senate and House representatives, you can use the “Find Your Legislators” tool on FLSenate.gov or MyFloridaHouse.gov tool. You can also contact Rick Scott’s office by phone or mail by looking at his contact information here. You can tweet at the DOH as well, utilizing all avenues of communication will let them know people out there care.