By JAMES A. BARRETT Florida’s Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to approve the pet medical cannabis bill, a move that could give the industry a boost for the coming legislative session and set the stage for further expansion.
The Senate approved the bill, SB 3, with only two Republican votes against it, and only three Democrats opposing it.
It passed by a 51-47 vote, with two Democrats voting against it.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Albo (D-Miami) said the Senate had the chance to pass a bill that would “improve and expand Florida’s pet medical industry.”
He said he believed the bill would “reinforce” the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, the industry’s largest lobbying group.
“It’s good for the state and good for pet owners to have more options in the marketplace,” Albo said.
“The Legislature did a good job on the pet business and it’s good to see it pass.”
Florida is among a handful of states that allow the use of cannabis oil to treat some medical conditions.
The state’s Senate approved a bill in 2014 to allow physicians to prescribe the cannabis oil for some conditions, but the House rejected the measure.
The Florida Medical Marijuana Association, which lobbied for the bill in the Senate, said it welcomed the Senate’s vote.
“The Florida Veterinary and Medical Association is excited that the Senate has acted swiftly to provide the industry with the necessary protections,” said Jill Condon, a Florida spokeswoman for the group.
“This legislation will give the Florida Medical and Veterinary Professionals with the most expertise in treating and managing these debilitating and debilitating conditions access to the medical marijuana industry, allowing them to provide their services to the patients who need them most.”
The legislation is a major win for Florida veterinarians, who are trying to secure a foothold in the industry after the state’s medical marijuana program went into effect in 2018.
Florida had no licensed veterinarians to administer medical marijuana, which made it difficult for vets to certify patients for its use.
The veterinary industry is also hoping that the bill will lead to additional business for pet food and pet food products, which are among the pet foods that the pet industry is trying to grow.
The Veterinary Medical Cannabis Act, if approved by the Senate and signed into law, would allow the sale of pet food to patients with a doctor’s certification, and allow pet food producers to grow their own marijuana.
The legislation would also create a licensing system to allow for licensed growers, manufacturers and dispensaries.
It would also allow veterinarians and veterinarians’ groups to conduct research and develop training programs for their patients.
“Florida’s pet food industry is a very important part of the state economy, and this is an important step forward in our efforts to expand access to a safe and reliable supply of pet foods and pet foods products for our pets,” said Scott Loeber, executive director of the Florida Pet Food Association.
The bill also provides for up to $50,000 for the Florida Food Bank to administer grants to businesses to develop pet food for use in veterinary hospitals.
The House is expected to take up the legislation next week.