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Medical cannabis bill includes special carve-out for Florida growers -- but who?

In the flurry of amendments on the bill to legalize a limited strain of medical marijuana, the House approved a provision sought by Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, which would require that the only nurseries that could grow this strain of marijuana would be those who have been operating on Florida for 30 years or more. 

Caldwell, a real estate appraiser who touts the fact that he is a seventh-generation Floridian, inserted the amendment into the bill without debate, explanation or discussion. Caldwell told the Herald/Times he believes there are about 35 growers in Florida who could compete for the five dispensaries that would be allowed to handle the medical pot. (We've asked the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for more information on this list.)

But the amendment does appear to be an attempt to exclude out-of-state growers, such as the Stanley Brothers who have developed the low-THC strain of marijuana that was discovered by a mother of a child with intractable epilepsy.

The strain was given the name "Charlotte's Web" after Charlotte Figi, the seven-year-old child whose seizures have gone from hundreds a day to only a few a week after she started taking an extract placed under her tongue.

The House passed a bill authorizing a similar strain to be developed in Florida by a vote of 111-7 Thursday. The measure now heads to the Senate. 

According to Caldwell's amendment, growers "must possess a valid certificate of registration issued by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services pursuant to s. 581.131 that is issued for the cultivation of more than 400,000 plants, be operated by a nurseryman as defined in s. 581.011, and have been operated as a registered nursery in this state for at least 30 continuous years."
The bill is expected to be accepted, unchanged, by the Senate on Friday, the last day of the legislative session, said Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, a chief sponsor of the bill.