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Politics

Clock Ticking as Florida Legislature Disagrees on How to Implement Medical Marijuana

April 14, 2017 - 11:30am

Two proposals to regulate Florida’s marijuana industry continue to weave their way through the halls of the Florida Capitol but there’s still a long way to go for lawmakers to reach any sort of agreement on how to move forward with medical pot in the Sunshine State.

With three weeks remaining until legislators say “sine die,” pound the gavel and head home for the year, state lawmakers will need to concur over a handful of issues revolving around implementing medical marijuana, from the number of licenses, how patients will ingest the drug and how doctors will prescribe the medication. 

The battle over the future of medical marijuana has been one of the most contentious and highly publicized of the 2017 legislative session. 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services is set to hear the Senate bill, SB 406, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, next week.

Bradley’s bill is seen as a less restrictive proposal and would increase the cap on the number of marijuana dispensaries, expanding the number of businesses by five more when the state has 250,000 patients, 350,000 patients, 400,000 patients and then every 100,000 thereafter.  

SB 406 would also create a coalition for medical marijuana research through Tampa’s H. Lee Moffitt Center and Research Institute, one of the top medical research centers in the state.

The coalition would conduct “rigorous scientific research,” and “guide policy” for the adoption of a statewide policy on ordering and dosing practices for medical marijuana. 

Nonresidents would also be allowed to apply to receive medical marijuana in Florida as long as they are able to get medical marijuana in their home state and qualify in Florida. 

Bradley’s bill would also require Department of Health to have computer software system to track marijuana from “seed to sale,” following pot as it’s planted and distributed to patients statewide.

Meanwhile, House lawmakers are headed in the opposite direction, considering a much more restrictive proposal to regulate medical pot. That measure, HB 1397, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would ban smokeable marijuana as well as prohibit edibles and vaping. 

The House bill would also limit the number of growers in the state, resulting in far fewer growers.

Supporters of Rodrigues’ bill say it’s a critical step in the right direction for a “healthy” implementation of medical marijuana.

Groups like the Drug Free America Foundation, backed by anti-medical pot billionaire Mel Sembler, praised HB 1397 for limiting ways to ingest pot since they say the results of high-THC medication could be disastrous.

"We have no idea what the impact is going to be with these high potency products," said DFAF Deputy Director Amy Ronshausen last week.

Pro-medical marijuana advocates, meanwhile, have railed against Rodrigues’ proposal, saying it shuts out free market growers and goes against the will of Florida voters, who passed Amendment 2 to expand medical marijuana by 71 percent. 

Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida For Care, said he hoped lawmakers sided with Bradley’s proposals and made good on their promise to Florida voters. 

“My hope is that the Senate continues to do what they've been doing and makes SB 406 better in its final two committee stops, and that the House finally decides to live in reality, where 71 percent of Floridians approved a comprehensive, compassionate medical marijuana law,” Pollara told Sunshine State News. “Fingers crossed the Easter Bunny can deliver on the latter.

Other pro-medical marijuana groups say neither bill is a good choice to uphold the will of voters who said “yes” to Amendment 2. 

“It’s a huge disappointment,” Karen Goldstein, Executive Director of NORML Florida told SSN. “It’s very repressive. It’ll make it much harder for patients to get the medication they need. The Bradley bill is also not keeping with the intent of the amendment…and the limited number of growers will limit the numbers of strains. The spirit and intent of the market was free and open, and neither of those bills offer that.”

If passed next week, SB 406 will then head to the Senate Appropriations committee for approval.

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

Smoking is the safest way to consume marijuana. Consuming it through the stomach delays the effects and makes it easy to consume too much.

Our Florida politicians are enacting "Super-Tough" laws for Opiate based prescriptions (which is a good thing) ... Yet they are fighting "Non-Addictive Medical Marijuana" as a viable alternative, even though 71% of Florida voters overwhelmingly "APPROVED" of the "IMMEDIATE LEGALIZATION" of it. Vote these State Senators and Representatives OUT of OFFICE in NOVEMBER !!! (they will be smoking pot next year for depression after losing their cushy jobs) Vote John Morgan Esq. for Florida Governor in 2018 

Our government is working against us and must be destroyed at any cost no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process. We gave them this ultimate power and we must now take it away by force, we out number all the law enforcement and national guard in this state, we outnumber thier supply of ammo. We must purge this scum of a government once and for all and the corporations that support them. Death to Florida and Death to all who oppose the Sontaran Empire!

Those that oppose cannabis in Florida ultimately support the existing system, a system where some diabolical drug dealer (this is not a reference to my health provider) will sell illegal drugs to any one who has the money. The drug dealer, a scourge that will destroy our children. I say end this culture of gangster-ism, banish thug-ism, send a message to all those who support the criminal cartels, Florida refuses to bow down to organized criminals.

Mel is a 100% Idiot

All this while DHS claims that cannabis is not a factor in the "war on drugs"

They don't want to decriminalize cannabis cause if they did they wouldn't know where to use tax payers money and Florida's prisons would be empty and the court systems would lose a lot of money , the rich people got to keep the poor down that's the only way they can keep pushing pill mills . people are dyeing Dailey from these pill mills and I would much rather myself use medical cannabis than pills any day if I take what doctors give me its several different kinds of meds a day from back pain to aneixty to insomnia eating disorders, to where cannabis helps with all and I can't overdose from cannabis like a have of the pills I want to be able to use cannabis legally so I can function daily and not be zombified of the antipsychotic meds I take I'm hoping they don't make it hard to receive keeping my fingers crossed

Some folks who went to straight came back much worse .

When is everyone going to Tallahassee to protest the bullshit their trying to shove down our throats?

Should have simply been decriminalized. Ignore it. Give the cops more time to eat donuts and chat up a cute waitress. A perfect example of the pondscum sucking politicians. Don't forget that they are here to help you. Anyone that doesn't understand that it is all about the money?

We the people need to take a stand against the politician that's against the voters let's start voting them out if 71% voted for medical cannabis let it be so we should have the choice to use it if we choose to decriminalize it and make it to where we can take it how we choose I have chronic back pain so bad I can't get out of bed in the mornings I've been on pain killers and had to get off them cause they was destroying my body not to mentioned I was dependent on them thank god I got off them and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone they are so addictive were cannabis is not and cannabis does not destroy the human body so let's start voting out politician that's against the voters let the voices of the voters be heard they need us to vote them in office if they're against us vote them out ? Vote them out they are more of us than them and let's vote out the semblers starting with them CAUSE WE ARE THE PEOPLE we have a voice united we stand

"Let 'em eat cake !"...(or Pot-Brownies,...) If they can afford them. "Everyone is entitled to go to Hell in the fashion of their own choosing", (as long as they don't intrude on the lives of anyone else, in ANY way),.. [I've always believed & said].

i can see a doctor who cams order drugs to leech white blood cells from my bones, but I cannot medicate with a plant? What's wrong with this state? I came here from a truly compassionate state, and Idue to the lack of access to the medicine I need, I am now undergoing yet another round of chemo. I hold all legislators against implementing A-2 as it was intended accountable for my suffering.

Don't forget folks, we changed the State Constitution. Any law they may pass that restricts or opposes the wording of the Constitution WILL be overturned by the courts. Remember last summer when the "vote not "ads warned us that once this once in the Constitution we couldn't make any changes? Even if they pass nothing we still have the right to use it under the Constitution.

Funny how I no longer need to go to pain clinics to get prescriptions for man made chemical poisons that never even dull the pain, they just make me so loopy I don't care about the pain. But with a plant that God allowed to grow in dirt worldwide my pain is reduced to a tolerable level and I can lead a somewhat normal life as opposed to just being a doped up zombie. But hey, Mel likes doped up zombies don't you Mel ? How is your big pharma stocks doing Mel ? Doped up zombies can't function at a high enough level to question how it is Mel can buy anything he wants no matter what the citizens want... that works out pretty well for your bottom line doesn't it Mel ? Unelected, uneducated, uncaring Mel.....

Floriians, lets start by calling this plant Cannabis and I will tell you why. There is a lot of people suffering and dying every day waiting for this natural plant which interacts with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. There is a reason God gave us those receptors. Cannabis was in the pharmacopoeia of USA until 1941. Then it was demonized, the name change to marijuana to related to Mexican immigrants. Even Henry Ford made a car of Cannabis non-psychoactive cousin hemp which by the way have many other uses that can reinvigorate our economy. However, the influence of specials interests did not allow it with the reefer madness they created. Do not allow this to hold us back as a country. We have an oportunity to be in the right side of history; to amend past transgressions. I hope we will.

What patient will pay $200-$300/year for a pot doctor visits, on top of the extremely high price for the medical cannabis, when all they will get is "low THC" garbage that they can't smoke, eat. or vaporize? Legislators have to be kidding. Who would waste their money on alcoholic beverages if all alcoholic beverages had no alcohol.They are indirectly putting legal medical marihuana to rest before it has a chance to even start. People that are willing to break the law are able to get real high quality cannabis at reasonable prices on the black market. Patients in need and with debilitating conditions just want to be LAW ABIDING CITIZENS and obtain "real" cannabis legally- why don't the lawmakers have true compassion and just understand this?

exactly

Perfect comment.. Do they want to keep the Black Market alive? How can the government cash in on taxes like that?

The taxes are a huge benefit they can't hide from. What they are trying to protect is the pharma and liguor industries and all the big corporations that are directly involved. Pills and alcohol sales will go down when cannibus becomes available -especially if completely legalized- and that will hurt the profits on everything from bars to grocery stores to pharmacies etc. These are the real people legislators are working for. They need to put a lid on this medical marijuana thing as quickly as possible. It's all about money and protecting profits. Do you really think they give a crap about your chronic pain, or debilitating illness, or your desire to live a longer, healthier, happier life? No chance in hell when the almighty dollar is involved.

a stay and injunction by the Florida Supreme court lets not let the anti cannabis cronies try and pull the rug from under the people of Florida

this case has to be brought before the Supreme Court of Florida to be enacted as the people of Florida voted in the true spirit and wording , this bill and any laws cannot be voted on and passed by a legislature that never intended or wanted medicinal cannabis in Florida or for the people of Florida so as they were given 2 years from when the initial vote to amend the constitution was lost by 2% when it was 58.2 then 2 years to pass laws to abide by the people they refused and failed to represent their constituents , for this Bias alone the legislature should not be permitted to craft or pass any bills or laws that do not include a more rounded panel which includes the pro medicinal cannabis as well as the reluctant legislatures to come to an agreement , lets not expect anything from this legislature we already know where they stand lets take this to the courts now and make sure the peoples voice is heard and the will of the people is implemented, lets top the false hopes Ben Pollara get your act together and fight for the rites of the people and for a reasonable law which is for the people . People of Florida should be allowed to grow between 6-12 plants as well as ingest the Cannabis in any form they feel they benefit the most wether through ingesting, vamping, smoking dried plant material, balms, salves, and any other form all people are different and all benefit in different ways and methods, Get your act together Ben Pollara get a stay injection so that all bills and any legislature is put on hold till all these issues are resolved .

As Sembler the molester proves, Lawmakers are bought and paid for. The Semblers belong in jail, not politics. Unelected, uninformed and evil. None of the current medical cannabis bills​are acceptable. Implement A2 as intended or suffer the consequences. Remember, Lawmakers have plans to give DFAF a half million taxpayer dollars to educate Floridians on Medical Cannabis. How ignorant is that? They spent millions opposing A2. Why should they receive any money? Politicians are set to pass a bad bill, then spend taxpayers money defending the bad law. Vote the bums out!

Representative Rodrigues will follow what Drug Free Florida recommends. I will ensure that the House Leader Richard Corcoran implements our suggestions. Pot is not medicine.

Hello Mr. Sembler, I pray you are well. Sincerely and respectfully, cannabinoids are indeed medicine, of which I own a few patents; beginning with US 9,585,867. There are no cannabinoid receptors in the brain stem, so cannabis does not suppress autonomic body function (breathing nor heart rate). That is why cannabis does not kill people, as tragically do all other illicit and many legal drugs - especially alcohol and opiates. SAINT Brand Cannabis has patent protected and is developing a new and safer class of sedation and anesthesia agents - based on cannabinoids. We're developing both medical cannabinoid agents, and non-lethal weaponized variants - for military, law enforcement, and personal defense use. As a former Armed Security Officer, US Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer, Defense Contractor Electronics Engineer, Credentialed and Licensed Protestant Minister, International Corporate Patent Paralegal, and for the past few years a multi-million dollar cannabis business owner - I’ve seen far too much evil in my lifetime, in diverse places and in very deceptive forms. I sincerely applaud you for your devotion and efforts to alleviate the suffering of families and those laboring under the extreme and deadly burden of addiction. With big booze and big pharma pandering their wares on every street corner, many do not stand a chance. My late wife succumb to alcohol addiction at 51 years old; our family will also suffer for generations from her loss. I miss her so very much... I have been a medical cannabis patient for a decade, treating myself under a Physician's care with cannabis flower for severe arthritis of the spine (diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis); and saving myself from the ravages of NSAIDs and opiates. There but for the grace of God go you and I sir. There indeed is scientific, medical, and experiential proof that cannabis is a very safe and effective treatment for numerous maladies; epilepsy, cancers, pain management, mental health issues, addictions, the list goes on. All proven and being proven as I type. However, as I've recently relocated back home to West Palm Beach from Santa Barbara to care for my elderly Korean War Vet father (I'm a peace time vet) cannabinoids helping with "age related disorders" is one of the most promising benefits. In fact, it has been discovered at Stanford Medical University in 2014 that deficiencies in the cannabinoids naturally made in the body (endocannabinoids) may be THE underlying cause of Alzheimer’s. Cannabis and cannabinoids may prevent and cure Alzheimer’s, Mr. Sembler. On this Holy Saturday 2017, In the Name of the God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; I ask and pray you pointedly seek Our Lord in prayer, and seek out more information on medical cannabis and the benefits of cannabinoids; and then prayerfully reconsider your position. Lives are a stake sir, and medical cannabis is indeed saving lives. I have much scientific information (on my LinkedIN page) and know of many Physicians who can provide such information; simply ask sir. In Christ, Charles Ankner, Founder and Owner, SAINT Brand Cannabis West Palm Beach, FL

Hey Mel, stop being a schmuck! ANYTHING you do (or rather, buy) will at best be a temporary "victory", not anything that will have much lasting value. Stop worshiping money and let people get on with their lives. It appears you don't have that much time left on this earth and you might wish to consider redemption rather than enriching your coffers...

I see you have nothing more to say Mel. Wow, the truth shut you up that fast didn't it?!

Mel , have you ever had cancer or treatment for cancer ? If you or anyone you care about ( other than your own self imposed righteous opinion) had to use pot as a medicine , you would quickly change your tune about medicine ! Hopefully you neve have to go through chemo , but if you do I hope you , see the error of your ingnorance to give you a moment of relief !

Then how come it helps me with my pain so much Mel?

Your ignorance is astounding. Cannabis has been medicine for thousands of years by the Chinese, and other advanced societies. Colorado has greatly increased revenue from the sales of both medical and recreational cannabis. There are current peer reviewed studies that show humans have cannabinol receptors in their brains. Humans are hard wired to consume cannabis. Alcohol causes so many more problems, why not spend your time trying to get alcohol made illegal as well as tobacco. Both of those kill people.

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