News from District 89

State Government Week 2:

This week, the Florida House passed a bill that authorizes smoking medical marijuana and advances medical marijuana research. It was my first significant vote on the House floor, and one I truly appreciated hearing from my constituents on. I wanted to share with you what the bill does, since it is a different bill than the proposed House bill that I reported on last week.

Senate Bill 182 eliminates the current ban on whole flower marijuana to allow Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) to dispense marijuana in a form for smoking. The bill requires physicians who certify smoking as a route of administration for qualified patients, other than for terminally ill patients, to document their clinical decision-making process to the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Over time, this documentation will be used by the Boards to establish practice standards for physicians. The bill allows children under age 18 to smoke medical marijuana if they are terminally ill and a board-certified pediatrician agrees with the marijuana-certifying physician that smoking is the most effective means of administering marijuana for the patient. The bill updates the current informed consent form provided to all patients to include the negative health risks associated with smoking marijuana.

Additionally, the bill creates supply and possession limits. The bill allows physicians to certify no more than six 35-day supply limits for smokable marijuana. A MMTC can only dispense one 35-day supply within any 35-day period, and a 35-day supply cannot exceed 2.5 oz unless the Department of Health (DOH) approves a higher amount requested by the qualified physician. The bill sets a possession limit of 4 oz. or a DOH-approved amount. The bill also allows a patient or caregiver to purchase and possess a delivery device for smoking from a vendor other than a MMTC, and imposes packaging and labeling requirements for marijuana cigarettes and loose flower.

The bill creates the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research within the state university system and establishes a board to direct its operations. The board will organize a program of research that contributes to the body of scientific knowledge on the effects of the medical use of marijuana and informs both policy and medical practice related to the treatment of debilitating medical conditions with marijuana.

Because both the Senate and House have now passed the bill, it was sent to Governor DeSantis for his signature.

It was another busy week of committee meetings and constituent visits! As a Representative we have the opportunity to sponsor students to work as a Page or a Messenger in the Florida House each Session. This week I was pleased to sponsor George, and he reported that he had an amazing experience. I also had a visit from Brandon, a student at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and many other groups from home that made the trip to Tallahassee. I truly appreciated those who came to support me when I presented House Bill 369, nicknamed the Sober Home Bill, to its final committee where it passed unanimously and it is now ready to be heard on the House Floor.

I went home this weekend to participate in Delray Beach’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade with my wife, son and dog Darla. I really enjoyed meeting with and talking to everyone and am looking forward to next year already – just trying to figure out how we can bring our other poodle, Spanky as well!

State Government Week 3:

It was another busy week of committee meetings, Session and constituent visits. I had the opportunity to present several bills in committee and I’m pleased to say each passed their respective committees and are now another step closer to the House Floor. To highlight a few:

HB 741: Anti-Semitism passed the House Education Committee on Thursday. This bill defines anti-Semitism and gives our public schools and universities a tool when treating discriminatory acts that take place on their campuses. It now heads to the Judiciary Committee.

HB 1157: Access to Health Care Practitioner Services passed the Health Quality Subcommittee on Tuesday. This bill expands access to healthcare for the underserved community by allowing retired doctors to practice with limited licenses under the care of a fully licensed practicing physician on a pro bono basis at places like health care clinics. When I heard about retired doctors coming to Palm Beach County for the winter who would like to volunteer a few days a week at one of our clinics, and them not being able to do so without getting licensed in Florida, this sounded like an opportunity that could benefit many people in our great state. This bill next goes to the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

I had some great visits from the district, as you can see below. Representative Al Jacquet brought amazing STEM students to Tallahassee and they shared their good work and passion with me. I was proud to join him on the Floor of the House to introduce them in the Gallery during their visit. The Realtors from Palm Beach County came for their annual visit, as did advocates from Boca Raton and Delray Beach to discuss transportation accessibility for people with disabilities. Finally, I had a fun visit with with constituents that joined Disability Rights Florida, who happened to bring their two sons. It’s nice to take a break from business sometimes during a busy day!

Remember, you can always keep up with committee meetings and session by watching www.myfloridahouse.gov. It is my honor to serve you in the Florida House. Please call (561) 750-2396 or email (mike.caruso@myfloridahouse.gov) if ever my staff or I can assist, or if you want to share your thoughts on legislation.

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