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House to Back Experimental Drug Bill

The House appears poised to approve a bill that could help clear the way for terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs -- but the measure will not include medical marijuana.

House members Wednesday took up the bill (HB 269), filed by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, and could approve it as early as Thursday. Dubbed the "Right to Try Act," the bill would help make available experimental drugs to people who have terminal illnesses and are expected to die within one year.

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Credit Florida House of Representatives

The measure spurred debate Wednesday when Rep. MattGaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, offered an amendment that effectively would have allowed those patients to also have access to medical marijuana.

Gaetz said the proposed amendment would follow the underlying premise of the bill that terminally ill patients should be able to make decisions.

"I want to give them less government," Gaetz said. "I want to get out of the way and see what happens."

But Gaetz withdrew the amendment after Pilon and other lawmakers expressed concern about adding the medical-marijuana issue to the bill.

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