The issue of medical marijuana in Florida will be front and center this week as a Senate panel takes up a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana.
Lawmakers continue to grapple with whether to go beyond a 2014 law that approved a limited form of cannabis.
The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled Thursday to take up the bill (SB 460), that would permit marijuana use for terminally ill people.
A similar House bill (HB 307), sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, has been approved by another House panel and is pending in the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.
The bill the subcommittee will look at today would authorize certain licensed dispensing organizations to manufacture and sell cannabis, exempting them from current laws that make it illegal.
These organizations would legally be able to provide cannabis to terminally ill patients.
The 2014 law was pushed by parents of children who have severe forms of epilepsy, but the actual use of the drug has been stalled due to legal and regulatory snags.
The 2016 legislative session kicks off in January. Also looming is a proposed constitutional amendment that would make medical marijuana available to more patients.
That amendment could go on the November 2016 ballot.