Cannabis in tablet form, contributions flood into assault-weapons-ban PAC, and other Florida news you may have missed


The Florida Department of Education has no idea which teachers carry guns: The Florida Department of Education was unable to confirm last week an independent Wall Street Journal survey that found seven of the state's 67 school districts have approved or would consider arming classroom teachers under a controversial school "guardian" program. A new school safety law, approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature this spring and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, expanded the guardian program to allow classroom teachers to volunteer to participate in the program and carry guns on school grounds. Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said the state agency has not collected information from school districts on whether they plan to allow classroom teachers to participate in the guardian program, which authorizes specially trained school personnel to bring guns to schools.

Florida medical marijuana dispensary now sells the state's first cannabis tablet: National dispensary Curaleaf released the state's first cannabis tablet last week. The company's two Orlando locations, at 775 N. Semoran Blvd. and 12402 S. Orange Blossom Trail, sell the mint-flavored tablets in a child-resistant package of 30 for $35. To partake of the new offering, patients must see a doctor and obtain medical orders specifically recommending oral medical marijuana, not just smokable methods.

Florida lawmaker wants to raise the age limit for vaping and smoking: State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, wants to increase the legal age for vaping and smoking tobacco from 18 to 21 in Florida. "This issue is alarming and urgent. Precious lives are at stake," Toledo said in a prepared statement last week. Toledo's announcement came after President Donald Trump's administration said last week it intends to finalize a policy that would ban flavored e-cigarette products. Toledo's bill (HB 151) also would ban the sale of flavored liquid nicotine products.

Campaign to ban assault weapons in Florida received record donations in August: In the wake of two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last month, contributions flooded into a political committee seeking to ban possession and sale of assault weapons in Florida, according to a new campaign-finance report filed at the state Division of Elections. Ban Assault Weapons Now, the political committee behind the proposed constitutional amendment, drew more than 28,000 contributions totaling $595,000 in August, by far the largest amount in a single month since the committee was launched in March 2018. Nearly 12,000 of the contributions were $5 or less, the campaign report shows. Also, more than 5,000 were for $10. Last month's contributions brought the total amount collected by the committee to just over $1.67 million.

New investigation reveals Rick Scott turned down $70 million in federal funds to fight the AIDS epidemic in Florida: New reporting from the Guardian reveals that while governor, Rick Scott blocked $70 million in available federal funds for fighting Florida's HIV crisis, likely hastening the state's record-high rate of infections. In the report, Florida's HIV/AIDS administrator from 2014 to 2016 under Scott, Marlene LaLota, is quoted saying, "I think Rick Scott fueled the epidemic in Florida." The report found that from 2015 to 2017, "Florida was forced to return to the federal government $54 million in unspent grants for combating HIV." Blocking federal funds has long been a political point for Scott, who opposed the Affordable Care Act and refused millions in ACA grants. He rejected $2 billion for high-speed rail in 2011, instead backing the private company behind Brightline, now Virgin Trains.

This story is from the Sept. 18, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.