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Bill Would Give Florida Veterans Free Medical Marijuana Cards

After five judges recused themselves, the remaining judges split 4-4 and "less than a majority ... voted in favor of rehearing en banc," Tuesday's ruling said.
Julio Ochoa
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Veterans will no longer have to pay for medical marijuana cards if bills filed by Sen. Janet Cruz and Rep. Adam Hattersley pass during the upcoming Florida legislative session.

The pair of Hillsborough County Democrats recently filed legislation to waive the registration fees for vets. The goal is to increase their access to treatments other than opioids.

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Rep. Hattersley spent eight years in the U.S. Navy, including a combat tour in Iraq, and said he has seen first-hand the physical and mental trauma military service can cause. That's why he wants to save veterans who are eligible to use marijuana for treatment some extra money.

Patients currently have to register for a medical marijuana card every year, and pay $75 each time.

"So it's not a huge burden, but any small thing that we can do to help veterans get the treatment they deserve, I think we need to do," Hattersley said.

Other nieher states offer similar discounts for veterans, seniors and low-income residents. If passed, this would be the first medical marijuana discount offered in Florida.

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The cost of the card itself is just one of many costs medical marijuana patients have to pay out-of-pocket for, as neither private insurance nor the VA cover treatment.

The VA allows veterans in its care to use medical marijuana, but does not allow VA doctors to recomend it.

Patients have to see private-sector doctors who are qualified to recommend medical marijuana. The initial visit typically costs about $250.

Medical marijuana products and equipment sold in dispensaries can range from $20 to more than $300.

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.