TALLAHASSEE, FL — A bill that would allow the medical use of marijuana in the Sunshine State appears stalled in a committee in the Florida Senate.
Senate Bill 1250, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, would allow patients with certain qualifying medical conditions, or their officially designated caregivers, to privately possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to eight marijuana plants. It would also require the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities.
The bill has been assigned to the Health Policy Committee, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing, despite recent polls showing over 70% of Florida voters, including 56% of Republicans, in support of medical marijuana legislation.
With Florida’s 2013 legislative session approaching its halfway point, sponsors of the bill fear that the committee’s inaction could doom medical marijuana in the Sunshine State for at least another year.
“Shame on us as a Legislature for not taking the opportunity to hear this bill this year,” said Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation), sponsor of a companion bill in the House, HB 1139. “At some point, I believe lawmakers are going to have to engage in this conversation and address the concerns raised by the medical profession, by law enforcement and by patients themselves.”
Rep. Edwards added that it’s only a matter of time before Florida recognizes medical marijuana, estimating that Florida will join the ranks of 18 other medical marijuana states, and the District of Columbia, within the next two or three years.
The bill is named in recognition of Cathy Jordan, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, who uses marijuana in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians.
Lawmakers in 14 states, including Florida, have proposed medical marijuana legislation this year, and medical marijuana bills are expected to be brought forward in at least four additional states.