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Senate To Take Up Medical Marijuana, 'Pastor Protection'

Samples of medical marijuana shown on display
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The full Senate is slated Tuesday to take up a bill that would allow patients with terminal illnesses to have access to medical marijuana.

The bill (SB 460), sponsored by Regulated Industries Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would add marijuana to a 2015 law known as the "Right to Try Act." That law allows terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs that have not been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Also during a floor session Tuesday, the Senate is expected to consider a controversial proposal that is an outgrowth of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

The proposal (SB 110), sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, would seek to prevent clergy members from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies contrary to their beliefs.

But opponents of what has been dubbed the "Pastor Protection Act" say it is unnecessary because clergy already have First Amendment protections.

Also Tuesday, the Senate is scheduled to consider a bill (SB 636), sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, that seeks to ensure rapid testing of DNA evidence in suspected sexual-assault cases. The bill stems from disclosures last year that thousands of "rape kits" have gone untested.