Florida legislature tackles MMJ legalization, again

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For the third time in two years, the Florida Legislature will take up the hotly contested issue of medical marijuana, in an attempt to broaden its current system.

On Monday, state Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a new medical marijuana bill that would license cultivation, processing, and retail facilities, and expand the conditions that qualify patients for MMJ.

Today, Florida’s Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a proposal to add medical marijuana to an existing state law, “Right to Try,” that allows terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Either bill, if passed, would supplant Florida’s current and extremely restrictive medical marijuana law, which permits only CBD medicine, and limits use to patients suffering from seizures and cancer. That bill was passed by the state legislature in 2014, in what many saw as an attempt to undercut a more permissive medical cannabis ballot measure that received 57.5 percent of the vote that year, short of the 60 percent super-majority needed to pass.

A second MMJ bill was introduced late last year but failed earlier this year, prompting marijuana legalization advocates to resurrect a ballot measure for 2016 that is nearly identical to the 2014 measure.

This most recent ballot measure received a boost Friday when the state Supreme Court canceled a Dec. 8 hearing to make sure the ballot measure wasn’t misleading and complied with other guidelines.