With Florida voting to legalize medical marijuana by amending the constitution our legislators are at work trying to craft laws that will regulate this new industry. At this time we are still in the infancy of this process. Both senate and house bills are working their way through various committees and being amended. In fact it appears that there are about seven different bills that have been proposed with various amendments attached to all of them.
Senate Bill 406 does seem to be moving along and is gaining to traction. This bill was sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley. The bill seems to increase the number of nursery licenses available immediately and also provides for an increase in licenses as the number of patients increase statewide. There are a number of other bills that have been proposed and nothing has passed in either the House or the Senate.
From my review of the various bills there does appear one common thread which is a limitation on the number of nurseries that will be given a license to grow cannabis. I can certainly understand the idea of regulating this industry and ensuring that any company that gets a license meets very strict criteria and is continuously monitored. What I do not understand is why we are letting the government pick the winners in the business. Currently there are 7 approved nurseries and the proposed legislation is only increasing that number by a few. As the Miami New Times put it “Rather than open the medical-pot business up to the so-called free market, state legislators are basically creating a seven-company weed cartel.”
Interestingly, two of our Florida congressmen are trying to change marijuana laws on the national level. Darren Soto, a Democrat, and Matt Gaetz, a Republican, have proposed H.R. 2020 which is a bill that would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule 1 substance to a Schedule 3 substance. This change would allow for more medical and scientific research, make it easier for ill patients to obtain, and would ease banking restrictions that are currently in place. If you are interested in following this piece of proposed legislation, you can do so here.