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Medical Marijuana Bill Headed To Full House

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Florida House of Representatives
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A House medical-marijuana plan sponsored by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues is ready for a floor vote after a key committee approved the proposal (HB 1397) late Monday afternoon.

The legislation is aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients with debilitating conditions. The amendment was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

Proponents of the amendment object that the House bill is too restrictive, in part because it would rely too heavily on a 2014 law that legalized non-euphoric marijuana for patients with chronic muscle spasms, epilepsy or cancer.

Critics of the House plan have urged lawmakers to adopt a Senate approach, which would do away with a requirement that patients have a 90-day relationship with health-care providers before doctors can order medical marijuana treatment for them. The House plan — which would ban vaporized or edible marijuana products — would also prohibit pregnant women from being eligible for the treatment.

Stephani Scruggs Bowen, whose husband, Michael, had a seizure during a Senate committee meeting last week, urged the House Health & Human Services Committee to do away with the 90-day requirement.

"We need to stop pretending this issue is about hippies and stoners. … This is about medicine," Bowen, whose husband is on the board of directors of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, said Monday.

Rodrigues, R-Estero, called the bill "a work in progress" before the panel's 14-4 vote. "I believe we're going to have a final product which addresses many of the concerns I've heard here today," he said. The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated Tuesday morning to take up a competing version of the medical marijuana implementing bill (SB 406).