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Health News Florida

Pot For Dying Floridians Proposal Progresses

A measure that would allow terminally ill patients to use full-strength marijuana has just one more committee stop before going to the Senate floor for a vote during the 2016 legislative session.

The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday unanimously approved the proposal (SB 460), which would add marijuana to a list of drugs available to dying patients.

The bill is an expansion of the "Right to Try" law, passed earlier this year, which allows patients with terminal illnesses to try experimental drugs that haven't been federally approved, if at least two doctors give them the go-ahead.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who was instrumental in the passage of a 2014 law that allows types of non-euphoric cannabis for patients with severe muscle spasms or cancer, is sponsoring the new legislation.

During Thursday's meeting, Bradley said he is amenable to opening up his bill to address certain glitches in the 2014 law, but cautioned about trying to expand the bill too far.

"We're talking about just adding some belt and suspenders" to the current law, Bradley said. A House committee approved a similar bill (HB 307) last month.

The effort to expand on the 2014 low-THC law comes as a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize full-strength medical marijuana for a broader swath of patients appears likely to make it onto the November 2016 ballot.

A similar initiative narrowly failed last year, receiving about 58 percent of support from voters. Constitutional amendments require at least 60 percent approval from voters to pass in Florida.

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