Republican State Senator Files Medical Marijuana Bill

Medical marijuana supporters in Florida tried their hand at the ballot last year and fell just short, but perhaps they might find success in the Florida Legislature.

St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican (!), has filed a bill that would legalize marijuana in Florida as a treatment option for those with serious ailments and others who have exhausted more traditional treatments.

See also: Medical Marijuana Supporters Take First Step to Getting Amendment Back on Ballot in 2016

The move comes after Amendment 2 failed to pass by less than 2.5 percent in November amid fears from some that the wording was too vague and that the issue should be handled by lawmakers instead.

While the state legislature is strongly controlled by Republicans, it appears that some in the GOP are ready to move on the issue.

Brandes' bill spells out the conditions for which doctors could prescribe marijuana: cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cachexia. Those with severe and persistent pain, nausea, seizures, or muscle spasms would also be covered regardless of the cause. However, such patients would have to try other treatments before resorting to medical marijuana.

The bill also gives the Department of Health a lot of leeway to decide on the specifics but does include language that would keep medical marijuana away from schools and place restrictions on designated caregivers. The bill also spells out specifics for dispensaries, which would have to pay $10,000 for a license.

Brandes and some fellow Republicans may see the writing on the wall as mega-lawyer John Morgan has promised to put another amendment on the ballot in 2016. However, it's unclear if the bill would have enough support in the legislature and, if it passed, how Gov. Rick Scott would react.

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