With time running out, Florida Legislature remains split

Saturday, 10 Jun, 2017

House Bill 5A and Senate Bill 8A, both titled "Medical Use of Marijuana", were filed shortly after Bradley released the statement earlier today.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward with the funding levels laid out by Scott and legislative leaders in the deal they announced last week.

"If (patients) want to smoke it, they should be able to smoke it", he said.

Later Friday, a U.S. Sugar spokeswoman knocked down reports that it would benefit from a special provision in the bill.

They come from two camps: Those who oppose medical marijuana to begin with, and others who say the policy negotiated privately by the House and Senate doesn't go far enough to implement what the voters wanted.

Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, complained bitterly about having to vote for funding for both Visit Florida and the new grant program. But you know what this really is? "People are counting on something getting done", said John Morgan, who played a key role in getting the amendment on the ballot and passed.

"We're glad that they're coming together and that they're reaching common ground, but we're not just going to rubber-stamp an agreement that two parties made without our priorities being taken into account", Negron said.

The Senate will relent on trying to appropriate more money for hospitals; there will be nothing that looks like a tax increase; Scott will allow restoration of $60 million in preferred Senate projects; there will be no changes in the "required local effort" part of public schools funding.

"By adding higher education to the topics that can be considered during the ongoing special session, the Legislature will have the opportunity to modify these issues for my consideration".

Renner defended the House proposal that would let the governor allocate money from the new trust fund for broad regional public safety or infrastructure projects, such as roads, airport runways and utilities.

Unfortunately, the bill has been stifled by a lack of agreement between the House and the Senate late in the session. "And some of what is in the House bill is virtually a blank check with no accountability, at least on the economic development side".

Where exactly the legislation went sideways boiled down to regulatory caps that would have been placed on medical marijuana treatment centers.

Legislators from the House and Senate scrambled to reach a compromise.

The bill would add 10 new growing licenses to the current seven, and allow 25 dispensaries for each of these new growers. The bill allows patients to possess a 70-day supply of marijuana, which can be used in any manner other than smoking it.

A ban on smoking marijuana remains in the bill, though proposed bans on vaping and edibles that were raised during the regular session are out.

Doctors who certify patients to receive medical marijuana without "reasonable belief" that they suffer from a medical condition eligible for treatment would be guilty of first-degree misdemeanor.

Negron aggressively refuted what he called a "fake narrative" - that by appearing in Miami last Friday with Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, he had agreed to support terms of a special session budget deal, when in fact he had not.

The deal between Scott and Corcoran is thought to guarantee Scott's signature of HB 7069, a large education bill that includes a top priority of Corcoran's: using $185 million to pay for charter schools to compete with chronically failing public schools.