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Florida Legislature Fails to Pass MMJ Expansion Bill, Moves to Health Department

After a failure by Florida’s legislature to compromise on legislation that would enact the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis amendment, the implementation responsibility now moves to state health officials who have long been criticized by patients, industry operators, and lawmakers for their handling of the current regime, according to an Orlando Weekly report.

Ben Pollara, executive director for Florida Care and campaign manager for the political committee that backed the expansion, said that the legislature “chose political gamesmanship over the will of 71 percent of voters.”

“The will of the people was thwarted again today by Tallahassee politicians, but they can’t deny us forever,” Pollara said in the report. “Florida for Care will continue fighting to implement the Constitution and bring a compassionate medical marijuana law to this state’s patients.”

The legislative deal fell apart when the House amended its proposal to expand the number of retail outlets permitted for each of the state’s medical cannabis operators to 100; the Senate had proposed setting the limit at 10.

The Senate decided not to take up the House plan before the session ended at midnight.

Sen. Rob Bradley, the Senate bill sponsor, said the chambers “just couldn’t bridge the gap.”

“That’s a real concern,” Bradley, a Republican, said. “The Legislature at some point in time needs to have a bill that implements Amendment 2. It’s disappointing that we didn’t get it done this session.”

Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said the agency “is committed to quickly moving through the rulemaking process” to create a regulatory structure for the expanded industry.

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