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FL GOP senator files major medical-marijuana bill


Seriously sick Floridians and those who can’t find adequate prescription drugs would be allowed access to "medical-grade" marijuana under a major cannabis bill filed Monday by a top Florida Republican state senator.

St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes’ 28-page legislation, the most far-reaching of its kind by a top legislative leader, seeks to regulate the cultivation, distribution and use of medical marijuana in Florida.

The bill mirrors parts of a proposed constitutional amendment that garnered 57.6 percent of the vote. That amendment, which failed because it didn't meet a 60 percent threshold for approval, has been redrafted and could appear on the 2016 ballot.

Brandes said he opposed the amendment, largely because he thought the Legislature should be in charge of making such a major change to healthcare and criminal law in Florida.


“We should allow for physicians and patients to make decisions about their medical care,” Brandes said. “It’s about the physician-patient relationship — for me, that’s the compelling reason. You hear stories of people struggling.”

The proponents of the medical-marijuana constitutional amendment cheered Brandes’ proposal.

"Floridians have spoken on the issue of medical marijuana and Sen. Brandes has heard them," said Ben Pollara, the executive director of the United for Care group that has back the proposed amendments.

"This is a tremendous step towards passing a medical marijuana law without having to bring the issue back to voters in 2016," Pollara said.

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