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Would it really be so bad if lawmakers didn’t take up pot during special session?

in Peter by

What!? No medical marijuana in the call for a Legislative Special Session? OMG!

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Would it be so awful if lawmakers returned and did not take up medical marijuana? Now, don’t get me wrong. I think they should. If they don’t, the Florida Department of Health will be left to develop emergency rules. The Board of Medicine will tinker. The current crop of licensees will continue to produce and sell products. The courts may (or may not) get involved, but probably not in time this year to make a difference.

But, just for a minute, let’s step back from the edge and walk through this scenario.

Right now, licensees are opening dispensaries at a fairly brisk pace — Trulieve is likely to open two in the next two weeks alone. As of this writing, there are about 12,000 patients in the registry (not 20,000 as reported in the Herald-Tribune this weekend). That’s about a sixfold increase since March! Wow!

And when lawmakers meet this week will they take up medical marijuana?

Senate President Joe Negron must agree to increase the caps on dispensaries to ensure a deal. During the regular session, he was dug in at five dispensaries per licensee. Will he be willing to move toward the House position and increase the number of dispensaries five or ten fold to get a deal? Unlikely. Negron doesn’t like to cave to the House.

What we do know is if they don’t reach a deal by close of business Tuesday, there likely won’t be a medical marijuana bill during the Special Session.

From this vantage point, it looks a lot like the functional equivalent of status quo for at least another year.

Is that really so bad? Is either scenario much different?

Before the pro-Amendment 2 folks light me up (not the worst pun ever), hear me out. Seriously take a knee for a second. Under either scenario, does the world look much different if they do or do not include medical marijuana in the call?

Don’t ply me with “their sacred duty” arguments because I agree. They should figure this out. But with almost 100 percent certainty, if they include it and they pass something, it is hard to see how or why it will make much of a difference in the near or even midterm.

The patient registry is growing briskly. Competitive fires are burning across the state as licensees are scrambling to grab market share and get to market quickly (that IS what you said you wanted) and with each passing day, a growing number of patients are receiving medical cannabis as treatment. Last I checked, the world hasn’t ended.

But here’s another truth: nobody (especially the ardent pro-Amendment 2 folks) is going to be happy or even satisfied if they include medical cannabis in the call and pass something that is almost certainly going to be a compromise.

So it won’t be the end of the world if the lawmakers don’t tackle pot this week.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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