Last November, 71% of Florida voters passed Amendment 2, a bill that legalizes medical cannabis in the Sunshine State. Now, Florida lawmakers must shape the regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program — and the proposed regulations from Representative Ray Rodrigues won’t help many patients.
The new proposal, House Bill 1397, would ban medical marijuana patients in Florida from smoking cannabis and consuming THC-infused edibles. Moreover, barring a terminal illness, patients would be prohibited from even vaporizing plant material. Florida would also be able to revoke medical marijuana prescriptions once a patient is deemed cured.
The bill’s applicable text seeks to ban medical marijuana patients from:
“Possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking or vaping or in the form of commercially produced food items made with marijuana or marijuana oils, except for vapable forms possessed, used, or administered by or for a qualified patient diagnosed with a terminal condition.”
Which begs the question: how are Florida’s patients supposed to consume cannabis if they can’t smoke or eat it? While topicals and tinctures appear safe under this proposal, Florida’s potentially vast medical marijuana market would be virtually non-existent given these restrictions.
For Florida’s United for Care, the group behind Florida’s successful medical marijuana campaign, this news was startling. Campaign director Ben Pollara told the Miami New Times, “It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana. There was unanimous agreement that the new amendment would expand use.”
Pollara’s reference is to Florida’s CBD-specific marijuana law — the “Compassionate Use” law — which allows for five statewide facilities to produce marijuana’s non-psychoactive cannabinoid (CBD) and allows limited access to terminally ill patients. That bill’s only qualifying conditions are cancer, muscle spasms, seizures and terminal illnesses.
As Pollara notes in his official statement, HB1397 would further restrict safe access for Florida’s medical marijuana patients:
— Ben Pollara (@bfgpollara) March 7, 2017
While the Trump Administration’s enforcement of recreational marijuana laws remains uncertain, medical marijuana does have the federal government’s approval. Hopefully, that support will allow states like Florida to provide reasonable access to adequate medicine for patients in need.
Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.