This week, the legislature is spending part of its special session weighing a medical marijuana implementation bill that caters more to the people who mistakenly think cannabis is somehow worse than totally legal opioids. They're trying to limit how many people (and who) can distribute it, and how many dispensaries would be allowed. They're also trying to limit the ways in which it can be consumed because they Have. No. Chill.
Meanwhile, cities and counties are trying to hammer out how to implement medical marijuana policy locally, including such details as the number of dispensaries allowed for every number of potential patients, proximity to schools and other facilities where Our Nation's Youth could get corrupted should they catch a whiff of the devil's cabbage, etc. (Whatever lawmakers do could supersede these efforts.)
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who often thinks differently than many of his GOP colleagues, filed legislation that would take an approach that's exponentially more friendly to patients and encouraging of competition and innovation.
Update: as of Thursday, the bill failed in the Senate, with 15 voting for it and 21 against.
Technically an amendment to another implementation bill in the Senate by State Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park), the bill would a) not subject medical pot to a sales tax, b) ensure that the market would determine the number of dispensaries/treatment centers rather than some "arbitrary maximum," c) eliminate the "vertical integration" requirement that mandates that all medical marijuana prescribed in the state be grown, processed, transported and sold by the same company and d) allows physicians to determine and prescribe the most appropriate method of consumption, be it pills, topical oil, smokeables or delicious chocolates.
Brandes said the bill should appeal to his Republican colleagues' free-market sensibilities... shouldn't it?
“This proposal is the purest implementation proposal that the legislature has seen to date for Amendment 2,” stated Senator Brandes. “For the first time the Florida Senate will have an opportunity to vote consistent with our Republican principles of free markets and fair competition. This legislation puts Florida patients first, and protects the physician-patient relationship. I look forward to a robust conversation with my colleagues on this proposal, and I urge their support so that we can address this important issue during the Special Session.”
Of course, the changes didn't have much of a chance, given how they reflect a) the will of 71 percent of Florida's voters and b) an attitude toward marijuana that doesn't belong in a 1950s time capsule. In other words, check back in about 20 years.