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GOP Lawmaker Files Medical Marijuana Bill

Jan 26, 2015
Originally published on January 30, 2015 8:42 am

There's a new push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and a Republican lawmaker is leading the charge.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana failed in November, Republican lawmaker state Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill to make medical marijuana legal for Florida residents.

"Amendment Two really was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. 

Brandes filed SB 528 Monday afternoon.

"I think a better way to do it right now is to go through statute," he said. "And to be thoughtful, let the legislators review it, make the appropriate changes and really create a Florida specific medical cannabis law." 

The Florida Medical Marijuana Act would allow qualified patients suffering from certain conditions or symptoms to access marijuana, if certified by their doctor. Under the proposal, a doctor would have to see the patient on a regular basis for a period of at least three months before they could certify that patient for medical marijuana use. 

"This is about mitigating certain types of symptoms, or trying to deal with certain types of conditions, and so we want to make sure this is part of the treatment of that condition and we think that in order to do that, you have to have a long-term relationship with that patient," Brandes said. 

Patients would then be required to register with the Florida Department of Health, which will maintain an online registry.

Under the bill, health insurance companies are neither required or restricted from covering the purchase of medical-grade marijuana. 

 

This bill follows the 2014 Legislature's approval of a liquid-based form of medical marijuana, commonly known as Charlotte's Web. Details of the production and distribution of that drug -- known to be used most by children who suffer seizures -- are still part of an ongoing debate.

Lottie Watts is a producer/reporter with WUSF in Tampa. WUSF is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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