Florida’s Medical Marijuana Progam is Suffering

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Florida medical marijuana patients are confused and distressed. It’s been 15 months since the state’s residents voted to legalize medical marijuana and qualified patients are still without their voter-approved medication.

Passed by 71.3 percent of the electorate in November 2016, there are approximately 74,000 patients waiting on one unelected bureaucrat to defend their rights – and uphold the will of the voters.

Christian Bax, the 32-year-old Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), received his MBA from Babson College in 2015 –  shortly before he was appointed to his current position. While procedures were established and timelines settled, the intent of Amendment 2 has yet to become reality.

Director Bax, considered inept by many, is responsible for the awarding process of all cultivation licenses in the state. Now under the spotlight of scrutiny, Bax was recently grilled by a joint legislative oversight committee that “delivered a public shaming” to Florida’s newbie “pot czar.”

Questioned by the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee chair, Sen. Kevin Rader (D-Delray Beach) cast some serious shade on Bax and his struggling OMMU. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Rader and the committee were more than a little curious about several revisions issued by the OMMU.

“The items under scrutiny ranged from identification cards for caregivers of sick patients to a provision banning applicants seeking medical-marijuana licenses from amending their applications. The prohibition conflicts with state law requiring state agencies to give applicants time to correct errors or provide additional information.”

Considered a Republican stronghold, Florida is governed by Rick Scott (R) and has a Republican-controlled House and Senate. A midterm election issue for the GOP, they’re concerned by their constituent’s frustration over the lack of access to medicinal cannabis and are anxious to find out why Bax refuses to issue the cultivation licenses to potential growers.

A poll conducted Feb. 12 by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida revealed marijuana legalization is significantly more popular among voters than either of the Democratic or Republican candidates. While 62 percent of those surveyed support the outright legalization of adult-use marijuana in the Sunshine State, candidates from both sides of the political divide suffered serious name recognition issues.

The delay was instigated when a Tallahassee judge ruled in favor of Columbus Smith, a Black farmer from Panama City seeking one of the 10 cultivation licenses awarded by the state under Amendment 2. In citing a 1999 class action lawsuit filed against the United States Department Of Agriculture – otherwise known as the “Pigford Cases”  – Smith argued that one of the state’s 10 cultivation licenses must be awarded to a black cultivator.

The Pigford rulings – meant to ensure that a historically disadvantaged population be protected from further discrimination – would typically be embraced and considered significant progress in most states. But in Florida, where the purity of politics block the will of the people, Columbus Smith and his lawsuit are being scapegoated as an excuse to delay the implementation of medical marijuana – rather than addressing the racially charged issue.

According to Florida Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, who issued a temporary injunction against the implementation of specific “portion” of Amendment 2 on behalf of Mr. Smith, noted:

“Plaintiff will likely suffer irreparable harm if this court does not enjoin the department from issuing the black farmer license because the law only applies to members of the association and plaintiff will not be able to apply or qualify for such a license, because he is not a member of the association.”

Florida’s OMMU, which was given the mission of devising and implementing the rules and regulations to successfully roll out Amendment 2, has cast blame on administrative challenges and mounting lawsuits for the postponement. To view a video of the Feb. 5 Joint Administrative Procedures Committee hearing, click on the image below.

Florida Joint Administrative Procedures Committee Grills Director Bax

About Author

My name is Monterey Bud and I was born in Long Beach and raised on the central coast. I surf, dab, burn and write. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I have been writing about marijuana strains, science, and politics for Marijuana.com since 2012. A Big Sur cultivator from the pre-helicopter days, I'm a big fan of new strains and breaking news. I can be reached on Twitter @MontereyBud

15 Comments

  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Thanks for aiming your literary sunshine at such darkness, Mr. Bud. Florida’s problem is much like New York’s problem: we also have to suffer the whims of “one unelected bureaucrat” who arrogantly obstructs public access to medical cannabis products for years on end. You can just disregard the pronouncements of Dr. Howard Zucker of the NY Department of Health, in which he pats himself on the back for doing so much to expand access. It’s a lie. For three unbearable years Zucker has mercilessly implemented the demands of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who single-handedly imposed the most ridiculous medical cannabis “rules” on 20 million people (no flower, hash or edibles, fewer than 40 dispensaries for the ENTIRE state, etc.) just because he does not like smokers. Cuomo also insisted on being an “example” for other states to follow, which is precisely what is now occurring (or not) in Florida and elsewhere.

    In every state and every corner of Washington, D.C., these heartless “marihuana” haters all should be arrested and charged with treason. Female cannabis flowers are as American as apple pie, and they always will be.

  2. I am still waiting on state to issue my card also. It sure does hurt not having medication. I wish the state workers would hurry up and issue cards to those who need it and was prescribed by doctor. Please help.

    • James, it takes 4 weeks, so much better then the 12 weeks it used to take. I don’t know why things take so long today, the stupid government lag is what’s costing us the taxpayer money. They need to understand that people need what they need and forcing people to the street because of their failing to address the issue or making it a priority is just stupid. Good Luck!

  3. ALL I GOT WAS A TEXT STATING I WAS APPROVED & I CAN PRINT OUT THE TEXT AND USE THAT AS PROOF I GUESS. THAT THE CARDS ARE IN PROCESS. LOL HOW LONG AGO WAS THAT AND IM STILL WAITING! WHEN I CALLED UP A DISPENSARY THEY SAID PICK UP OR DELIVERY? DELIVERY COST AN EXTRA $25. OF COURSE IT CAN NOT BE MAILED BECAUSE FEDERAL LAW!! WELL I WAS TOLD WHAT WOULD BE BEST FOR ME. THEY SEEMED WELL EDUCATED AND INFORM. WELL THE TOTAL PRICE WITH DELIVERY WAS $299!!!!! YOU KNOW THATS JUST WRONG AT SO MANY LEVELS. THIS WAS FOR ONLY ONE MONTH!!! WHO & HOW IS THIS REGULATED!!?? MEDICINE THAT ISNT EVEN COVERED ON YOUR MEDICAL/PRESCRIPTION PLAN!!!??? IT IS 3 TIMES CHEAPER ON THE STREETS. TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING BUT THEY MAKE IT FINANCIALLY INPOSSIBLE! CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME ADVICE. IM A 2ND TIME AROUND CANCER PATIENT WITH MANY OTHER PROBLEMS SUCH AS NEUROPATHY TOE UP PAST MY KNEES AND FIBROMYALGIA. THIS IS ONLY PART OF MY MEDICAL PROBLEMS. THANK YOU HURTING GRANDMA

    • Randi, my wife just her card after an initial rejection because of a photo. Anyway, we visited a dispensary near us and the cost for a pen and script was only $48.00. I don’t know why it’s costing you $300.00? The oil cartridges are around $37.00 roughly depending what you get. The same here with delivery it’s an extra $25.00. I would check around for another dispensary and make sure your not getting ripped off. If they force people to the street then this is all pointless. Lot’s of people are making money on the illegal stuff so it’s gonna be kind of hard to compete. The street prices are a little higher then the dispensaries but the grade is pure. Again look around a little and find a way better price then what you were quoted. Look on Trulieve.com they have prices, give them a call. I’m not sure if your in Florida or not? They deliver all over Florida but I’m not sure about other states. I do wish you luck in your research just don’t give up.

    • I wish these politicians will do there homework especially U.S. Attorney Sessions he was quoted that marijuana is than heroin how in the fuck does he know i was addicted to heroin for fifteen years now I have had Hepatitis C. Among the liver problem i also have osteoarthritis which doctors want to prescribe pain killers that will damage your liver and kill you. So im a medical marijuana patient and weed helps with booth liver and arthritis pain they don’t know what they’re talking about. The big pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know the truth. One more thing alcohol kills just look at the news. Nothing about weed so now what to the politicians.

  4. I am moving to Florida from Massachusetts and you had better get your act together! I am an alcoholic,sober 15 Year’s, and marijuana is the reason why…I would be dead right now from alcohol..

    • Robin, it’s just a matter of getting your card. It’s a fairly easy process. A little advise, go to walgrens or kmart or anybody that does passport style photos, this is the hardest part. The form is easy and straight forward. It will cost you $75.00 a year to maintain your card. Good Luck!

      • Actually it costs a bit more to keep your card valid in FL. You are required to see the MMJ doctor every 7 months to renew your prescription (which costs about $160-200), but you still have to renew the actual card with the state on an annual basis ($75/yr). And your doc has to “refill” your prescription every 70 days- seems like a lot of unnecessary steps. I recently moved to FL from AZ- I had a MMJ card in AZ for 3+ yrs and there you just had to renew the card every year by seeing the doctor once a year.

  5. I’m a new MM User, although have used street marijuana for 40+ years. My check to the Florida State Department of Health just cleared my bank. I was told to go to the Trulieve Dispensary and give them my P——– number. I didn’t have to wait for a card. They said that the card issue is a message. They told me the dispensary could look up my registration and see that it’s valid. Then purchase my medication. Anybody have this issue??

    Also, I will be getting the sublingual or capsules. No vape. So is the sublingual or capsules stronger than the smoke??

  6. For some unknown reason the internet has problems in north Florida. All of the research on marijuana of the past 50 plus years is not available to the Florida Dept. of Health. So they are starting the research from a zero knowledge base. Isn’t that special. They are so concerned about my health that they refuse to rely on research done my real scientist and doctors. That shows real dedication…..(to someone other than the patient). I have been a marijuana patient for over a year. The procedures when you go to the dispensary is laughable. I tease the employees that they are missing their has-mat suits. They treat this as though it was the most hazardous material available. While you can go to your doctor, get a prescription for Oxycontin, take to much and be dead by the next morning. There is something UN-American about the fact that one person (with a permit$$$) shoves a seed in the ground, grows marijuana and becomes very rich. While a person on the other side of the street shoves a seed in the ground to grow their own medicine and they are jailed and or heavily fined. Florida needs to stop reinventing the Marijuana industry or the black market will take all of the business. By the way, the watered down crap that they gives sucks. Old Mexican swag is better, and that’s a sad statement. The CBD vape works well for spasms, but the THC vape is weak. When you go into the dispensaries they have all of these display cases that have the same limited boxes repeated over and over again. It’s like a candy shop with only 10 types of candy. Why is the Judge taking so long to rule on smoke-able bud? She already knows her answer. WOMAN UP!

    • Kudos to you Dale! You have perfectly described the quality of the products and procedures. I am moving to Colorada in 60 days and will smoke one for You.

      Greg

  7. I was given less than one week to survive -(9 years ago to the day.
    O !Ade a still and grew some dank.. I did what they told me to do to male it work and wallah-!! 8 years later still alive. SICK BUT ALIVE. I AM DPING QELL WOITH LOTS OF PAIN BUT CAN ATILL GET ER DONE. CAN EVEN HAVE YEE HAWW. I DID THiS ON MY OWN and figured out how to make it in less than a week. Praise God. – so…if they say it won’t work then tell them 1) what are you scared of…
    2) why are you scared.
    3) why do I feel good. Get good hard one and still breath air every morning-

  8. curious as to how long of a wait Florida has for the final processing of your medical marijuana ID Card?

    Picture is in and accepted, application is complete as is my $75 (has already cleared and been acknowledged by the state as receipted and in their bank since Sept 8th 2018. Just waiting for the all important email with my patient ID#.

    Some people are saying 2-3 weeks, some 2-3 months. Would love to hear someone’s recent experience. Trying to decide if I need to go see my other doctor to renew pain meds script or if I can save the money and use it when I go to the dispensary for THC and CBD’s. Sounds like I will need it

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