Pledging that it is only a start, a Florida House panel gave a thumbs-up Tuesday to a medical-marijuana proposal castigated by supporters of a constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis for a broad swath of patients with debilitating conditions.
The House Health Quality Subcommittee overwhelmingly approved the measure (HB 1397), sponsored by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, with just one “no” vote after nearly three hours of public testimony.
“I believe this is a measured approach,” Rodrigues, R-Estero said, “but I will caution you that it is not the final product.”
The Rodrigues proposal would prohibit smoking of cannabis products, as well as edibles, and would ban all but terminally ill patients from using vaporizers to consume medical marijuana, one of the biggest objections to the bill raised by supporters of the constitutional amendment.
Known as Amendment 2, the ballot initiative was approved by more than 71 percent of Florida voters in November. It came after the Legislature in 2014 and 2016 passed far-more limited medical marijuana laws, allowing non-euphoric cannabis for some patients and full-strength marijuana for people with terminal illnesses.
The House bill would provide fewer additional licenses for purveyors of medical marijuana than a Senate plan would allow. Currently seven “dispensing organizations” have been approved by state health regulators.