Despite Florida voters approving Amendment 2, a measure which recently approved the use of higher-strength medical cannabis in the state, lawmakers have yet to establish firm parameters regarding the plant’s future infrastructure. In an article originally published by U.S. News and World Report, the controversy surrounding the amendment’s future is fully showcased for concerned voters.
In an effort to expedite the rule setting process, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has called upon his colleagues to hold a special session in order to establish the rules for Amendment 2. By doing this, Corcoran joins a growing number of lawmakers and public advocates who want to see the successful implementation of medical cannabis sooner rather than later.
While there have been many lawmakers requesting a special session to establish the rules for Amendment 2, the Florida legislature is not technically required to do so. In fact, the Florida Department of Health was initially given the responsibility of evaluating the potential for medical cannabis and establishing its legal specifics. Despite this, many within the Florida legislature have expressed doubts regarding the department’s ability to establish practical guidelines within a timely manner. In an interview with Tallahassee radio station WFLA-FM, Speaker Corcoran noted, “to just leave it (medical cannabis) to bureaucrats sitting over at the Department of Health I think would be a gross injustice.”
While there are many lawmakers wanting to ensure Florida’s medical cannabis program is implemented without hiccups, much of the pressure to hold a special session has spawned from outside pressure. John Morgan, one of the chief lobbyists for Amendment 2, has stated that Governor Rick Scott and state legislators have an obligation to complete the work that Florida voters started in November.
Morgan’s sentiments are further expressed in a video where he states, “Government in Florida is controlled by one party. What you’ve got to understand is medical marijuana is not an issue of party. Diseases don’t pick political parties.”
While Morgan and other cannabis advocates have been critical of Scott and his lack of productive action for Amendment 2, the Governor said through a spokesperson that his office will continue to review all options available to them going forward.
With this amount of political strife taking place over Amendment 2, the Florida Department of Health has been continually reviewing public comments in an attempt to develop practical boundaries. While the department seems to charged to develop rules which have a patient mindset, many do not believe the department will be able to do so with the little time remaining. Currently, the department is required to have firm rules established by July 3, allowing them to be implemented into law by October.
Despite many calling for a special session to establish rules before the Department of Health deadline, this would not be the first time Florida lawmakers attempted to do this. In fact, the House and Senate attempted to negotiate boundaries shortly after Amendment 2 passed in November, but were unable to agree on the specific number of retail dispensaries a treatment center would be able to manage at once. As a result, the proposed bill eventually became a legislative failure.
The actions of the Florida legislature and Governor Rick Scott will be a direct indication of how much they plan to serve patients in need going forward. Amendment 2 passed by an overwhelming 71% figure in November, a clear sign that Florida voters support the immediate implementation of a common sense medical cannabis policy.