While the Florida House of Representatives moves to decriminalize a non-euphoric strain of marijuana, the Senate advanced an alternative approach on Monday — create up to four highly regulated dispensaries to distribute the strain for medical purposes.
It is an approach that states that have legalized medical marijuana are increasingly turning to, after gaps in those laws led to legal confusion and needless prosecution.
Florida legislative leaders say they are not prepared to legalize marijuana for a broader range of maladies than the non-euphoric strain intended to benefit children with intractable epilepsy.
But if the Senate proposal passes, the framework could serve as the vehicle for the Legislature and regulators to control the development of the medical marijuana industry if voters approve, as expected, the constitutional amendment in November.
“This isn’t being approached as setting up a a regulatory framework if the constitutional amendment were to pass,’’ said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, one of the Senate sponsors of the bill. “But it would be naïve to say what we’re doing does not set a precedent.’’
A February poll of voters in Republican Senate districts by the Republican Party of Florida found that 78 percent favor legalizing “the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases” while only 18 percent oppose it.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted 5-1 in favor of CS SB 1030, which will allow patients to use low-THC marijuana — containing no more than .5 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and at least 15 percent of cannabidiol (CBD). Story here.