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Florida for Care walking Capitol halls today for medicinal marijuana

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Florida for Care declared Wednesday a Day of Compassion at the state Capitol. More than 20 supporters of two medicinal marijuana bills fanned out across the Capitol Complex early Wednesday to lobby lawmakers on behalf of HB 683 and SB 528.

“They came from all over the state,” said Kari Hicks of Florida for Care. “There are people from Tampa, Sarasota, Miami and Jacksonville and have scheduled constituency meetings with their lawmakers.”

Hicks said the group is targeting specifically members of committee of references for the two bills and shoring up support among lawmakers who have expressed support for the measures.

Neither bill has yet to be heard in committee.

“The purpose of Florida for Care’s “day of compassion” is to have our members – patients, doctors and small business owners – lobby their individual representatives and senators to support a compassionate and comprehensive medical marijuana bill such as that proposed by Sen. Brandes,” said Ben Pollara. “Our focus is both on swaying members influential in the eventual passage of a bill while doing so in a way that allows them to hear directly from their constituents, rather than lobbyists and representatives of big business.”

State Sen. Jeff Brandes’ SB 528 lists eight medical conditions for which medical marijuana could be allowed and permits its use for “any physical medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that chronically produces wasting syndrome, severe and persistent pain, persistent seizures, severe and persistent nausea or severe and persistent muscle spasms.”

Brandes’ measure is currently in Regulated Industries. State Sen. Rob Bradley chairs the committee and has expressed frustration with the Department of Health’s inability to implement the Charlotte’s Web law approved last year. Bradley said he intends to schedule a medicinal marijuana discussion either next week or the following one.

HB 683 is similar to SB 528 but is more restrictive. Sponsored by state Rep. Greg Steube, it lists the eight conditions eligible for treatment and stops there unless a patient has a terminal illness and less than one year to live. Steube would also prohibit the smoking of marijuana.

The Steube proposal is sitting in the Health Quality Committee.

Following a day at the Capitol, the Florida for Care contingent is sponsoring a Legislative Reception Wednesday evening at the Doubletree Hotel, a couple blocks north of the Capitol, to continue lobbying on behalf of the two proposals.

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