Florida Medical Marijuana’s Last Hope is its First Problem
The Florida Legislature decamped without setting up rules for producing and selling medical cannabis — in violation of the requirements of Amendment 2, passed overwhelmingly by voters in November. Now the last best hope rests with Gov. Rick Scott — that’s bad news for patients.
Nobody is happy with the Florida state Legislature at the moment. That’s what you get when you have clear direction and a relatively simple job before you and you go home leaving it undone.
This is what state lawmakers did on May 5 when they decamped from the state capitol without creating rules for the state’s new medical marijuana system.
Now weed in the Sunshine State — with its nearly 21 million people — is a half-baked mess, and everybody is to blame — but mostly state lawmakers.
Billy Bain, the mayor of suburban Miami Springs, told the Miami New Times that the inaction of the legislature was (literally) criminal.
“Frankly, the state broke the law,” Bain said. “They didn’t come up with the situation of how they wanted this to be distributed, and they kind of fumbled the ball there.”
Solutions have been lacking in the time since the fiasco — though there’s a short list of people responsible for finding one: Gov. Rick Scott, who has the power to call a special session of the Legislature solely to deal with the marijuana problem, and Senate President Joe Negron, who can call one with House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
As the Tampa Bay Times explains, “There are three ways to convene a special session of the Legislature,” but only two are likely: Scott calling one on his own, or Negron and Corcoran doing so jointly.
The third way, receiving three-fifths support from the entire state Legislature, is the least likely.
My message to @FLGovScott and leaders in the @FLSenate and @MyFLHouse, let’s get #MedicalMarijuana done #FORTHEPEOPLE of Florida!! pic.twitter.com/L65KePdBae
— John Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) May 9, 2017
Corcoran has already echoed calls from John Morgan — a prominent attorney and chief bankroller of the campaign behind Amendment 2, which won nearly 72 percent of the vote in November — for a special session, meaning it’s all up to Negron or Scott, neither of whom have committed one way or the other, despite more than a dozen lawmakers who have voiced support for a special session.
But mostly Scott.
Medical marijuana special session in limbo: It’s up to Rick Scott or Joe Negron: https://t.co/rhSDTCRsFM
— Ron Brackett (@rontimes) May 15, 2017
“I’m looking at all the options,” Scott told reporters at an unrelated event in Miami, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Which, if true, shouldn’t take too much longer, as there are very few options to choose from — but which is also a little concerning, as Scott’s record on the issue is not encouraging —at all.
The man who ruined Florida medical marijuana now responsible for saving it.
As Cannabis Now contributor Angela Bacca explained in the Huffington Post last year, it was Scott — a disgraced former CEO of the Hospital Corporation of America, which committed rampant Medicaid fraud during his tenure — who is responsible for Florida’s current medical-marijuana setup, in which all the rights to cultivate and distribute cannabis rest with seven companies.
Prior to that, Scott was a staunch opponent of legal cannabis, as he was in 2014, with the issue on the ballot for the first time during Scott’s reelection campaign. It “lost” — 57 percent in support to 43 percent opposed, three points shy of the 60 percent threshold for a constitutional amendment — but the showing proved future passage was an inevitability.
So Scott “got ahead” of the issue. In 2014, he supported allowing children with severe epilepsy CBD-only oil — though bureaucratic and administrative delays meant, two years later, patients had yet to receive any medicine — and then later supported legislation that created what current marijuana activists call the state’s cannabis “cartel;” putting the two grown children of a key Republican fundraiser (neither of whom had any experience in the marijuana industry to speak of, despite claims to the contrary) in charge of the state’s Office of Compassionate Use.
For these reasons, it may be wise to keep Scott, whose Department of Health is the de-facto agency in charge of marijuana in Florida until the Legislature regains its senses, as far away from the process as possible.
Come on, lawmakers — you have one job.
TELL US, are you a patient in need who can’t wait for the state to get its act together?