Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new law late last week that will expand the state’s limited medical marijuana program to include more qualifying conditions and facilitate the opening of seven new cultivation businesses, bringing the state total to 17 local medicinal marijuana providers.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Scott signed the bill, SB 8A, after lawmakers in the state house and senate passed the cannabis expansion law in a special legislative hearing, after being unable to come to a consensus during their regularly scheduled session.
"The constitutional amendment was passed overwhelmingly, and I'm glad the House and Senate were able to come together for a bill that makes sense for our state," Scott said earlier this month.
Under the new regulations, Florida residents suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy and a host of other ailments are now able to access cannabis pills, oils, edibles and vaporizer cartridges. To meet the expected increase in demand, the legislation also calls for 10 new cannabis cultivation licenses to be awarded by the end of the year.
Despite the expansion, Florida’s medical marijuana law still doesn’t allow patients to smoke their medicine, a continued point of contention for Sunshine State cannabis advocates looking for a more comprehensive system.
Still, even skeptics are happy that some form of the bill made its way into the law books.
"It's not perfect. I'm going to sue for the smoking but I know there are sick people who will see relief.” John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who provided financial backing for the medical marijuana bill’s public campaign, told the Tampa Bay Times.
The new regulations go into effect at the end of this month, and the 10 new cultivation licenses will be awarded before October.