Health Care

Gov. Scott signs medical marijuana expansion into law

Samples of cannabis are tested for purity inside Modern Health Concepts, a South Florida dispensary for medical marijuana that is producing medicine inside its Redland plant on Tuesday, January 3, 2016.
Samples of cannabis are tested for purity inside Modern Health Concepts, a South Florida dispensary for medical marijuana that is producing medicine inside its Redland plant on Tuesday, January 3, 2016. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

Lawmakers passed the measure (SB 8A) in a special session after failing in their regular session that ended in May to implement a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug, which was supported by 71 percent of voters last year.

Under the constitutional amendment, patients with a host of conditions can buy and use medical marijuana. Among the conditions that qualify for the drug: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy.

The new law also sets in motion a plan to license 10 new companies as growers by October, bringing the statewide total to 17.

It allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles and “vape” pens with a doctor’s approval, but bans smoking.

Poaching Companies
Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks during a meeting hosted by Bart Shuldman and the group Fiscal Impact at The Norwalk Inn on Monday June 19, 2017 in Norwalk, Conn. At the beginning of the week he was in New England trying to lure companies to Florida. By the end of the week he was signing 38 bills into law. Alex von Kleydorff AP

“The constitutional amendment was passed overwhelmingly, and I’m glad the House and Senate were able to come together for a bill that makes sense for our state,” Scott said earlier this month.

Lawsuits are likely to follow. John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who bankrolled the constitutional amendment’s campaign, has promised to sue over the smoking ban, and Tampa strip club magnate Joe Redner said he will file a suit because people cannot grow their own plants.

“Great Scott,” Morgan said Friday after hearing that Scott signed the bill. “It’s a no-brainer. Gov. Scott wants to run for U.S. Senate. If he didn’t sign this bill, he couldn’t run for dog catcher.

“It’s not perfect. I’m going to sue for the smoking but I know there are sick people who will see relief starting in July.’’

The marijuana law was among 38 bills Scott signed Friday afternoon.

He also approved a measure (HB 441) that will give court clerks added protection in public record cases.

Current law does not specify whether clerks can be sued for handing out information that is supposed to be protected from public disclosure if the lawyers who filed documents with that information did not mark it as confidential. Now, they will have that protection.

And a bill (HB 689) to let anyone with a beer and wine license sell sake beginning July 1 was signed into law as well.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this story.

Contact Michael Auslen at mauslen@tampabay.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen

White Press Secretary Sean Spicer addresses questions about the administration's stance on medical and recreational marijuana during Thursday's press briefing.

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