Special session likely to include pot

Anticipating some red ink from Gov. Rick Scott, legislative leaders are preparing for a mid- to late-June special session that will almost certainly include medical marijuana.

All eyes are on Scott, who’s yet to receive the state’s annual spending plan. Once he does, the governor will have 15 days to use his line-item veto on the $83 billion budget.

But Scott is also under intense pressure to veto a controversial education measure, which carries a price tag of about $400 million. And, while he’s at it, some public school folks want Scott to slash the entire K-12 portion of the budget.

The special session also address higher education issues, some insiders predict. They’re advising folks not to make any plans during the week of June 19 (or possibly the following week).

Whatever else they do, lawmakers are practically guaranteed to also deal with implementation of the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions.

“I support a special session to address medical cannabis, and I predict that we will have one,” Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who took over negotiations with the house on the marijuana measure in the waning days of the session, told The News Service late Tuesday evening.

House and Senate leaders failed to reach agreement on rules to regulate the industry for doctors, patients and vendors during the regular session that ended earlier this month.

A key sticking point was how many retail outlets the state’s marijuana operators should be able to run. The Senate wanted to cap the number, while the House’s final offer — on the last day of the session — was 100 storefronts per vendor, which essentially killed any hopes for a deal.

But lawmakers have been under intense pressure to hold a special session to deal with the issue. If they don’t, Department of Health “bureaucrats” will be responsible for implementing the amendment, something critics say would be bad for patients and the industry.

Posted by Dara Kam