Gov. Scott expands Special Session to include medical marijuana

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But in the brief, three-day session, the House and Senate managed to find the compromises on medical marijuana that eluded them during the 60-day regular session, when they bickered over the number of companies that would be licensed to grow, process, distribute and sell the drug, which became legal when 71 percent of voters approved Amendment 2 in November, legalizing medical cannabis for a large number of patients with debilitating illnesses.

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 day before, speaking to reporters, Corcoran accused Negron of lying about the deal, and repeated the accusation at a meeting of the Republican caucus.

"If (patients) want to smoke it, they should be able to smoke it", he said.

The agreement also includes $60 million to be shared by the state's universities and colleges for 17 projects that Scott had vetoed from the budget a week ago.

At the same time, he declined to make a successful conclusion of the special session contingent on the Senate getting its way. "I urge the Legislature to take up this call and fund these critical repairs", Scott said.

"I think it's important that the Legislature set the framework for the medical marijuana system in the state of Florida rather than leave it to bureaucrats. The hospital funding is something that we can discuss with the governor, discuss with the House, on moving forward".

The smooth landing for this special session was crafted through a series of behind the scenes negotiations that went on throughout the day.

"As I have publicly stated, the House will not participate in any legislative action to override your higher education project vetoes", Corcoran stressed.

"The idea of allowing smoking, or not smoking, has been one of the most hard decisions, no doubt about it".

Differences also dealt with oversight issues, as lawmakers consider $177 million proposals that would bolster tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida and create a new economic-development fund. Lawmakers are in a special session that started Wednesday and is scheduled to end Friday.

House and Senate lawmakers are taking another crack at implementing last year's medical marijuana amendment.

A litany of amendments, including Bradley's overhaul, passed before House Bill 1397 before it eventually died. The bill was a top priority of Corcoran.

"By adding higher education to the topics that can be considered during the ongoing special session, the Legislature will have the opportunity to modify these issues for my consideration".

But Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who urged changes to HB 7069, said there were no guarantees. "That's a unicorn, folks". Other attempts to tweak the funding deal were defeated or pulled from the floor before votes.

The house's bill to regulate medical marijuana allows edibles and vaping. The governor backed the idea ahead of session, but the House calls it a tax increase.

But Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said the new bill calls for spending an additional $100 million in state money, which would draw another $160 million in federal matching funds.

House leaders all but ruled out that approach.

Now, he said, Corcoran and Scott have to respect the Senate's priorities, which also include a restoration of $260 million in Medicaid cuts to hospitals.

"Our bill is pretty straightforward".

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