Despite the inability of the state to roll out a low-THC medical marijuana program for cancer and seizure patients in a timely fashion, not to mention the distinct possibility that voters will pass an initiative this November that will bring about a comprehensive medicinal cannabis program for a variety of conditions, Florida lawmakers are still wasting their time trying to expand the state’s non-existent “Charlotte’s Web” law to the terminally ill.
The Florida House of Representatives voted last week 99 to 16 in favor of a measure that would allow those who have been given less than a year to live the “right” to use full-strength marijuana. The measure (House Bill 307), which is being lopped in with the newly passed “Right to Try Act,” seems to be a clever, but remedial attempt at paving the way for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana that has the capacity to get patients stoned.
If passed, it would give specific producers the freedom to grow, manufacture and distribute high potency cannabis products for dying patients who qualify for the use of experimental medications. The language of the measure indicates that patients given less than a year to live can get their hands on cannabis as long as two physicians are willing to provide them with an authorization.
Although the House bill has transitioned relatively smoothly, the Senate version (Senate Bill 460) hit some snags because lawmakers are more concerned with remedying the problems with the state’s low-THC program than incorporating another variable into the mix that could stifle the program even further.
As it stands, patients with cancer and conditions leading to chronic seizures can obtain a recommendation from their doctor to use cannabis products with less than 5 percent THC. Unfortunately, even though the law was passed in 2014, the state Department of Health has been less than effective at bringing the program to fruition – it is not expected to service a single patient until at least 2017.
Regardless of the red tape folly that has surrounded the implementation of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, it seems that Florida patients have all but given up on the state legislature’s ability to establish a functional program, setting their sights on an medical marijuana initiative brought forth by United for Care that will appear on the ballot in the forthcoming November election.
According to a recent Public Policy Poll, 65 percent of Florida voters are in favor of United for Care’s “Amendment 2,” which seeks to provide medical marijuana access for patients suffering from “cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” Only 28 percent of the respondents said they opposed the concept of bringing medical marijuana to the Sunshine State.
Earlier this year, United for Care’s John Morgan said, “What Tallahassee politicians refused to do, the people will do together in this election,” pointing out the ridiculousness of the state’s inability to launch a low-THC program. There is speculation that with 2016 being a presidential election, there will be enough of a voter turnout to ensure the necessary 60 percent of the votes needed to pass the initiative into law.