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Lawmakers strike deal to address medical marijuana in Florida

Lawmakers strike deal to address medical marijuana in Florida

Florida lawmakers will officially take up medical marijuana during this week's three-day special session.

Scott had called the special session because he was unhappy with the state budget for schools and economic development the Legislature sent him last month.

They also managed to reach agreement on a bill implementing the medical marijuana amendment that was approved by 71 percent of the voters back in November.

Wielding the veto pen, the Governor cut out nearly $12 billion from the new state budget, as part of a deal with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to fund two of Scott's pet projects.

The final deal includes $60 million for 17 university projects and also boosts spending to increase per-student funding by $100 for the state's almost 3 million school children.

On Thursday, the Senate abandoned its push to pay for the increase through more property taxes but still used a different method to gather the money, relying in part on an override of Scott's veto.

The bill calls for the state to grant licenses to 10 medical marijuana treatment centers, along with the seven that already hold licenses to cultivate low-THC marijuana for the state's current, more limited cannabis program. One of those was among Senate President Joe Negron's session priorities, SB 436 on religious expression in public schools.

Scott and the House, however, have not gone along with increasing hospital funding during the special session.




And complaints by Senate leaders about other legislative priorities and the terms of this week's special session had threatened to derail comprise on all three measures. If legislators fail to reach a final deal, schools could lose billions in funding.

But the House favors covering increases with money from member projects the governor struck from the budget.

Republican lawmakers responded to the ruling by pushing the bill Scott signed. The House could approve a version of the bill Thursday, he said.

The "stand your ground" bill was fought by prosecutors who say it will make their job more hard to convict people who commit acts of violence and claim self-defense.

Sources close to the process told Sunshine State News the legislation would cap MMTCs at 25 retail facilities, which would include a grandfathering provision for existing stores and leaseholds.

"We are committed to fulfilling our constitutional duty to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana in the manner prescribed by Florida voters", said Senator Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park. It was estimated recently, after a Canadian company attempted to purchase a controlling stake in the Alachua County medical marijuana treatment center CHT Medical, that a state license could be worth as much as $200 million.

After spending the regular session bashing the governor for ushering in "corporate welfare", Corcoran addressed a letter to the governor that began: "Thank you for your leadership".

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