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Legislature back on path to passing medical marijuana bill

Special session to include medical marijuana after all

Florida legislators are spending their second day of a special session wrangling over money for public schools and medical marijuana.

During the legislative session, lawmakers failed to provide a framework for implementing the expanded use and sale of medical marijuana under the constitutional amendment voters approved in November, angering those felt that inaction violated the will of voters who saw medical marijuana as a viable treatment for painful or difficult-to-treat maladies.

One of the key sticking points between the House and Senate has involved how many retail outlets the state's licensed medical-marijuana operators could run. Added to the special session agenda at the last minute by the Senate, this critical piece of legislation was seemingly rushed through the process.

Bradley's legislation is part of a deal struck between House and Senate members, legislators said.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that will force prosecutors to prove during a pretrial hearing that defendants weren't acting in self-defense when they committed an act of violence. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, filed identical legislation during last year's legislative session and initially, the bill's future seemed promising. Moments before the session ended, he even shook hands with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who had clashed repeatedly with the governor the past few months. The House passed it 103-9 before the Senate voted 29-6. But during the special session, they restored Visit Florida's funding and created a new $85 million fund that can be controlled by Scott.

The Department of Health has issued licenses after lawmakers in 2014 passed a measure that allowed non-euphoric cannabis for some patients, such as children with severe forms of epilepsy.

Previous versions of the bills to regulate medical marijuana provided for edibles, capsules and THC oil, but did not allow smoking.

Rep. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, said today that she believed that both chambers had reached agreement on education spending and medical marijuana legislation but that questions remained over the chamber's rival economic incentives packages. For every additional 100,000 patients who register for the state MMJ program, four more licenses will be issued, and every grower will be able to add five more dispensaries. That provision spelled out where smoking is banned.

"If we are going to treat this as a drug and this drug is a medicine, it needs to be administered in a form that will not cause further harm for patients", said Sen.

"It will be implemented on probably July 1st and then on Independence Day or before I will strike out again for the people of Florida because I'm right and usually when I sue I win and I expect to win then", said Morgan. John Morgan, the driving force behind getting the amendment on the ballot a year ago and passed, said the only place where smoking is banned is in public places and intends to sue.