One of the key senators pushing for a medical marijuana bill to pass this session says its prospects have gone up in smoke, but the bill's sponsor isn't taking anything off the table yet.
"I wouldn't say its done," Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, told the Times/Herald. "There's still a week and a half left in session. I'm still open to having dialogue with my fellow senators and members of the House."
Earlier, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, had said that even a proposal to speed up patient access to cannabis low in euphoria-inducing THC is effectively dead this session.
"I think the best plan for us is to work on it over the summer, talk to experts in the field, come back with a bill that is well thought-out, well-researched and is something that is the right thing for Florida," he said, "versus building something in the next couple of days that will have huge unintended consequences."
Bradley and Brandes have been at the forefront of pushing a bill (SB 7066) that would have quickened the implementation of low-THC Charlotte's Web, which slowed in the Department of Health.
Brandes has previously committed to raising the level of THC in marijuana for medicinal use. But he said Wednesday that the existing regulatory structure in the bill won't be able to handle higher demand if the THC levels are raised.
"You have a low-THC cannabis bill that has a regulatory structure designed for a small amount of patients," he said. "If you raise the THC limits you have to completely restructure the regulatory structure. I am not comfortable doing that with nine days left in session on second reading and having that not be vetted by any committee in the Florida Legislature."
He said he plans to work on it through the summer and put together a structure to handle medical marijuana ahead of next session.
In the meantime, it's still possible the Senate will pick the proposal back up.
"I wouldn't take anything off the table outright right now," Bradley said.
It's likely voters will again see an amendment to the state constitution allowing full-strength medical marijuana in next November's election, a few months after Brandes plans to introduce legislation in the Senate. Last November, a proposal gained a majority of voters' support but not enough to clear a 60-percent threshold required for constitutional amendments.