Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

Lawmakers passed the measure, SB 8A, in a special session after failing in their regular session that ended in May to implement a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug, which was supported by 71 percent of voters last year.

Under the constitutional amendment, patients with a host of conditions can buy and use medical marijuana. Among the conditions that qualify for the drug: cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy.

The new law also sets in motion a plan to license 10 new companies as growers by October, bringing the statewide total to 17.

It allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles and "vape" pens with a doctor's approval, but bans smoking.

"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.

Lawsuits are likely to follow. John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who bankrolled the constitutional amendment's campaign, has promised to sue over the smoking ban, and Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner said he will file a suit because people cannot grow their own plants.

"Great Scott,'' Morgan said Friday after hearing that Scott signed the bill. "It's a no-brainer. Gov. Scott wants to run for U.S. Senate. If he didn't sign this bill, he couldn't run for dog catcher.

"It's not perfect. I'm going to sue for the smoking but I know there are sick people who will see relief starting in July,'' he said.

The marijuana law was among 38 bills Scott signed Friday afternoon.

He also approved a measure HB 441 that will give court clerks added protection in public record cases.

Current law does not specify whether clerks can be sued for handing out information that is supposed to be protected from public disclosure if the lawyers who filed documents with that information did not mark it as confidential. Now, they will have that protection.

And a bill HB 689 to let anyone with a beer and wine license sell sake beginning July 1 was signed into law as well. That, Times food critic Laura Reiley writes, would be good news for fans of sushi and ramen who want to enjoy the Japanese rice spirit with dinner.

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