The Florida Senate took up and passed SB 1030 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 on the final day of session, May 2, 2014. The House voted on an amended version on Thursday that raised the number of licenses to five; expands the disorders to include cancer; requires the dispensing organization to post a substantial bond; requires dispensing organizations to have a medical director with cannabinoid education to oversee the processing and dispensing and much more. Florida Governor Rick Scott has said he will sign the legislation into law.
The debate on the Senate floor was intense, and many of the amendments added by the House were not popular with the Senate. The leadership made it clear that without the amendments, the bill would be forced to go back to the House where its fate would be unclear.
Florida Cannabis Action Network Executive Director, Jodi James said last night, "This is not the perfect piece of legislation, but it is an important step forward. Florida CAN envisions a world where everyone is free to use cannabis without fear. We first must help our neighbors and their family members to understand there is nothing to fear from cannabis. In the end, the Florida Cannabis Action Network is proud of the Florida Legislature, proud of the bill and grateful to everyone who donated time and treasure to keep us in Tallahassee." By January 2015, over 125,000 Floridians may join Cathy Jordan, Elvy Mussika and Irv Rosenfeld as patients with legal access.
This bill does not guarantee patients a right to medical cannabis. The bill creates strict conditions for certain patients to have safe, legal access to measured doses of extracts from low THC, high CBD strains. The patients must work with a qualified physician; register with the Department of Health after January 1, 2015 and may only obtain cannabis oil through a licensed dispensing organization.
Florida voters will have an opportunity to vote on a more inclusive medical marijuana initiative this November in the general election which will expand the number of patients helped by medical marijuana usage. Through yesterday's passage of SB 1030, Florida ends its multi-decade long prohibition on marijuana -- even if it is in a small way.