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Senate Rules committee approves Charlotte’s Web fix

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Licenses to grow and dispense medicinal cannabis under last year’s “Charlotte’s Web” law may be coming soon.

The Department of Health would award licenses for medicinal marijuana 75 days after a Charlotte’s Web glitch bill becomes law, according to SPB 7066, a proposal approved Thursday by the Senate Rules Committee.

Rules had been SPB 7066’s last scheduled committee stop.

“The purpose of this bill is straightforward and simple,” said sponsor state Sen. Rob Bradley. “It is to fulfill a promise that many of us made last year to young children and their families who captured our hearts and asked us to give them some flexibility and no longer call them criminals when it comes to using a certain form of cannabis.”

The Legislature approved a medicinal cannabis law in 2014, but its implementation has been tied up in court since.

Growers, investors, and regulators have been unable to find common ground on a set of rules to award licenses and regulate the growing and selling of medicinal cannabis. The Department of Health has lost one lawsuit and two more challenges are in the hands of an administrative law judge.

State Sen. Don Gaetz said he’s been embarrassed, frustrated and ashamed by the legal challenges filed by “damn fools.”

“To what extent do you expect that we have cleared out the underbrush of specious and unnecessary rule challenges and general baloney that has kept this product away from the intended use of alleviating the symptoms of children?” Gaetz asked Bradley.

“I don’t know what else I can do, President Gaetz, other than what is in this bill to get rid of the challenges and fulfill our promise,” Bradley responded.

Lawmakers approved a heavily amended version of the Bradley bill. Among other revisions it now:

  • Lists 11 conditions, including autism, eligible for cannabis medication
  • Reestablishes five regions with two licenses available for each region
  • Authorizes 10 additional licenses for the state
  • Allows local governments to decide the number and location of retail outlets
  • Preempts state zoning for growing and processing of cannabis
  • Establishes fees
  • Requires safety and security protocols

An amendment removing the restriction of THC to .8 percent failed on a tie vote.

“The Senate has a lot of diverse opinions. I would expect if this bill makes it out today and goes to the floor we will have a robust discussion about that,” said Bradley. “To put all the cards on the table is for more clear direction from our partners in the House.”

The Committee approved the measure with an 11-1 vote.

“We’re very, very, very thankful for Senator Bradley taking on this fight for us,” said Holley Moseley, whose daughter is afflicted with epilepsy. “We’re just very, very grateful.”

“The business protection act moves forward,” said Joni James, who has lobbied for a more expansive law.

“This law is not for patients. You can’t use it in public, you can’t drive and you can’t wear a patch in public,” James said. “This bill is not for me.”

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