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Republican Lawmaker Files Florida Medical Marijuana Bill

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg)
State of Florida

Pinellas county Republican Jeff Brandes is receiving plaudits for filing the year’s first medical marijuana bill ahead of the legislative session. 

John Morgan, the personal injury lawyer behind the medical marijuana activism group United for Care, released a statement saying,

“I am extraordinarily encouraged by Sen. Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) introducing this important piece of legislation. He has clearly heard and respects the voice of the vast majority of Floridians who want to see a compassionate medical marijuana law in our state,” he said.  “I sincerely hope that with his leadership, the legislature will finally act on this issue in the upcoming session. My brother Tim and hundreds of thousands of suffering Floridians like him, are counting on it.”

United for Care put the narrowly defeated Amendment Two on the ballot in last year’s election.  The organization is already gearing up for another try in 2016, but officials say they hope the Legislature will act sooner.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida also spoke in support of the filing.

“Our compassion is why we trust and defend the decisions doctors and patients make together to ease pain and suffering,” CEO Karen Basha Egozi says in a statement.  “As the largest organization in Florida supporting those living with epilepsy, we support anything that improves their lives. And we thank Sen. Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), as well as Reps. [Matt] Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) and [Katie] Edwards (D-Sunrise) for their efforts last year.”

Medical marijuana and low-THC marijuana have shown promise in treating patients with intractable epilepsy.  This led the Florida Legislature to pass the Florida Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act last year, allowing patients suffering from specific conditions like epilepsy to use low-THC marijuana.  But a contentious rulemaking process has left patients waiting for the drug.