18 Nov Florida Senator Files Medical Marijuana Bill
In an attempt to head off an impending constitutional ballot amendment in 2016, a Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill into the legislature that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The bill, SB 852, was introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes.
“This legislation recognizes the growing support in Florida for the medicinal use of marijuana as an additional option for physicians in the treatment of their patients,” said Brandes in a press release. “We build on the best practices of the 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana.”
If passed, SB 852 would expand medical marijuana access to patients suffering from one of 16 debilitating illnesses or symptoms, such as ALS, Crohn’s disease, cancer and chronic pain.
This is not the first time that Brandes has introduced marijuana legislation. In 2014, Brandes sponsored SB 1030, which legalized CBD-only medical marijuana for children suffering from epilepsy. He also sponsored another medical marijuana bill similar SB 852, but it failed to gain traction.
Speaking with The News Service of Florida, Brandes said that this is the legislature’s last chance to pass meaningful reform before the constitutional ballot amendment, being pushed by John Morgan and United for Care, gets passed at the ballot box.
“We have a constitutional amendment that missed by less than 3 percent of the vote last year and that was a non-presidential year. Now you’re going to have it in a presidential year,” Brandes said. “So it’s either you pass my bill, or you deal with it during the next legislative session under a constitutional amendment.”
Brandes isn’t too far off the mark in his estimation for medical marijuana’s chances in Florida in 2016.
Not only is there a growing momentum for marijuana, but resistance is also slipping, particularly in Florida. Even Pam Bondi, Florida’s anti-marijuana Attorney General, has ended her crusade to keep marijuana off of the 2016 ballot.
Also working its way through the Florida legislature is a pair of bills hoping to piggy back off of Florida’s recently passed “Right to Try” bill. This bill essentially allows terminal ill patients to legally use non-FDA approved drugs to help treat their illness.
Although all three bills have Republican sponsors, it is unclear as to whether the legislature will move on any of the bills. Lawmakers have repeatedly stymied attempts at passing marijuana reform; and even in the face of a constitutional ballot amendment, there is little indication that their attitude will change.