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Governor's surgeon general opposes marijuana bill

Efforts to legalize a specific strain of marijuana to help children with intractable epilepsy faced a new hurdle Monday as the governor’s chief medical advisor said he opposed the bill because it will allow untested drugs into the market, raising the specter that the governor may veto the bill.

“We must be wary of unintended consequences and remember that first we must do no harm,” said John Armstrong, the Florida Surgeon General and head of the Florida Department of Health. He told the House Judiciary Committee that the better approach would be to allow for research and testing of the marijuana extract under the federal system.

Armstrong then abruptly left the meeting and would not say if his statement was a signal from the governor that he might veto the bill it it reaches his desk. Gov. Rick Scott has refrained from endorsing or rejecting the bill in public.

The House sponsor, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, said he was confident that he will work with Armstrong to address his concerns about quality control and predicted the bill, which the committee substantially revised on Monday, will pass.

“We intend to send to the governor a medical cannabis bill, and I expect that he will support it,’’ Gaetz said after the meeting. Story here.