Medical Marijuana Reform Dying in Florida

The clock for Florida has finally running down, and unless a miracle happens by Friday, it looks like the voters will get the last say on the issue of medical marijuana. With only a handful of days left in the legislative session, there is little hope of any marijuana bill passing the legislature; although, Republican Sen. Rob Bradley still remains hopeful.

“I promised those families that I would fight to the end, and we still have a few days left in session,” Bradley told the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m going to continue to try to find any avenue to make sure we deliver on that promise we made to them last year.”

However, when it comes to politics, promises are easy to make, but hard to deliver. There are multiple reasons why the legislature will not pass any type of marijuana reform this session, and surprisingly not all of it is based in fear. For starters, between budget negotiations and debates over Medicaid expansion, the legislature simply does not have enough time to tackle marijuana reform.

Medical marijuana may seem like a cut and dry issue to those in the industry, but to the legislature it might as well be rocket science.

Aside from that, there was a slew of lawsuits and challenges for the implementation of SB 1030, the CBD-only bill passed by the legislature last year. Some people sued because the rules inadvertently excluded the vast majority of Florida’s African-American farmers; others took issue with the fact that the state’s five growers would be selected by lottery.

It is hard to pass expansive legislation when the limited bill that previously passed continues to be held up in court.

With all of these factors working against medical marijuana, the cherry on top was the pushback from Florida law enforcement. The Florida Sheriffs Association openly opposed SB 528, which was a broad-based medical marijuana bill, and the association even went so far as to release its own little wish list of what it would like to see in a medical marijuana bill.

Ignoring the ethical concerns of law enforcement guiding legislation, it seemed a little arrogant for the FSA to think that law enforcement knew better than medical professionals. Nevertheless, the FSA’s efforts were successful in stifling enthusiasm for true medical marijuana reform.

Going forward, it looks like the best hope for medical marijuana passing in Florida is through the ballot box. John Morgan and his associates are already working toward putting medical marijuana on 2016’s ballot and presidential elections almost always have higher voter turnouts. Florida may not have its marijuana moment in 2015, but with a little luck and a lot of hard work, 2016 could be the year everything changes.

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