For the second year in a row, State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Pete, has drawn up a measure that would legalize medical marijuana in the state because, what year is it?
The bill would get rid of a medical marijuana law currently on the books. That law allows only for the use of very-low THC strains, namely "Charlotte's Web," which critics argue isn't as effective as strains with normal levels of the euphoria-producing chemical.
“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,” Brandes said in a media release issued Monday.
The release refers to it as a "robust and free-market regulatory approach" to medical marijuana.
The bill would make it legal for patients with specific conditions or symptoms to use medical marijuana with a prescription from a doctor. It also handles the cultivation, licensing and retail aspects of the drug and "establishes rigorous requirements over the medical marijuana distribution system, including product tracking and independent laboratory testing." Taxes from the sale of the product would go toward clinical research of the substance.
"We build on the best practices of the 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana," Brandes said in the media release. "The bill creates a responsible regulatory framework, offers patients with debilitating conditions access to this course of treatment, and it focuses funding on valuable medical research."
If it were to pass (not holding our breath on this one, given the fate of a similar bill he filed earlier this year), it would in theory negate the necessity of a proposed ballot amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. Voters narrowly defeated a similar measure in 2014 because no one under 65 knows that elections happen more than once every four years.
Brandes opposed that amendment as well. The thinking was that if legal medical marijuana is going to be an inevitability, the legislature should at least try to have control over how it's doled out.
Next year's legislative session begins in January.