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Prospects Dim For Medical Pot in Florida As Senate Committee Signals Rejection

| February 10, 2015

Less and less likely. (Dank Depot)

Less and less likely. (Dank Depot)

Proposals by two Republican lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana have a slim chance of passing this legislative session, based on the comments of a Senate committee chairman who helps control the fate of that chamber’s measure.


Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, created a buzz on Tuesday when he filed a bill that would expand Florida’s limited medical marijuana law, approved last year but yet to be implemented.

Steube’s proposal (HB 683) would allow doctors to order medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions but would not allow the pot to be smoked, a concession to the Florida Sheriffs Association, which came out in opposition to a similar bill (SB 528) released two weeks ago by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

Both proposals would allow doctors to order medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with certain conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease. But, unlike the Senate plan, Steube’s bill would not give doctors the leeway to order the pot for symptoms such as chronic pain or nausea.

Brandes said he would be willing to consider scaling back his proposal to align with Steube’s non-smokable version. Florida voters in November narrowly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have legalized medical marijuana, including the smokable form.

“I think it (Steube’s proposal) is a great first step. I’m excited that we’re going to have this discussion in the Legislature and not a take-it-or-leave-it offer in the Constitution,” Brandes said.

Even Steube’s narrower version, however, may be on life support before getting an initial hearing in either chamber.

Lawmakers last year legalized cannabis that is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and high in cannabadiol, or CBD, for patients who suffer from severe spasms or cancer. Under the law, Department of Health officials were supposed to have selected five entities to grow, process and distribute the low-THC substance by Jan. 1.

But, because of a legal challenge, the regulations setting up the framework for the state’s new pot industry are months away from going into effect, and patients may not be able to purchase the product until the fall.

Brandes’ proposal is slated to be considered first by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. But Chairman Rob Bradley, who sponsored last year’s marijuana measure (SB 1030), isn’t a fan of the broader bills now on tap.

“I’m of the school of thought that we need to allow this issue to naturally unfold by making sure that we crawl before we walk and walk before we run,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday. “I want to see 1030 (last year’s measure) get implemented. And then let’s see what works and what doesn’t with regard to the bill that we’ve already passed.”

Bradley said he is especially leery of expanding Florida’s current law because of problems caused by legalization of medical marijuana in states such as Colorado and California.

“It’s much more difficult to scale back than it is to know what works, make sure you get that down and then ease into a system,” he said.

Some lawmakers, however, want the Legislature to pass a bill to thwart a second attempt at a constitutional amendment.

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, who spent at least $3 million getting Amendment 2 on the ballot last year, is gearing up to put a similar proposal on the 2016 ballot. Some Republicans fear the medical marijuana initiative would be much more likely to pass in a presidential election, when Democrats — who might be more likely to support the effort — show up in higher numbers than in mid-term elections like last year’s. Amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana, received 58 percent of the vote in November, just shy of the 60 percent required for passage.

“I certainly think that the Legislature should be the ones who address this issue. I’m optimistic that we can negotiate between the House and the Senate and maybe at least allow the members to fully vet the issue and hear from all the stakeholders and kind of go from there,” Steube, R-Sarasota, told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday.

But Bradley, who controls whether the bill will be heard, remained unconvinced that the Legislature should act now.

“While I’m certainly aware of what’s going on with the John Morgan efforts and the constitutional amendments, I don’t think that should dictate our timetables. What should dictate our timetables is what is in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida,” he said.

–Darak Kam, News Service of Florida

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5 Responses for “Prospects Dim For Medical Pot in Florida As Senate Committee Signals Rejection”

  1. PhDScientist says:

    Senior Citizens are the fastest growing group of Medical Marijuana users. 88% of Floridians supported amendment 2 before a massive propaganda campaign was waged against it. Even after that it got 58% of the vote, a strong majority. Floridians deserve the best medical care available. Florida need a law that Medical Marijuana law that matches the intent of Amendment 2.

  2. PhDScientist says:

    I’m a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research. The evidence of the value of Marijuana as a life saving medicine is now so strong that the need to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 has become a moral imperative.

    This weekend over 3,000 Americans will die, in pain, of Cancer. Every day after that, 1,500 more Americans will die, after suffering horribly, from it. Every single minute another American dies of Cancer. Every American Cancer patient deserves the right to have safe, legal, and economical access to Medical Marijuana. Every single one.

    Americans who need Medical Marijuana shouldn’t be used as “Political Footballs” Please call the Whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President take immediate action to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 so American Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe it. Go to petitions.whitehouse.gov — there are two petitions you can sign electronically there, one to take Marijuana off of Schedule 1, the other to legalize it completely.

    Oncologists have know it for more than a quarter of a Century that Marijuana is a “wonder drug” for helping Cancer patients.

    The American Society of Clinical Oncologists wants Marijuana removed from Schedule 1. So does the American Medical Association, the professional society of all Physicians. A strong majority of Americans want Physicians in all 50 states to be able to prescribe Medical Marijuana. So do their Physicians., Cancer patients can’t wait.

    The need to immediately, completely, legalize Marijuana throughout the world is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, because of its medical benefits and because of the damage prohibition causes to America and to the world.

    Complete legalization is critical — its vital that there aren’t “strings” or “hoops” that Cancer patients and others who need Medical Marijuana are forced to jump through.

    “Charlottes web” is NOT the solution. Cancer patients and people who suffer from chronic pain need THC, not just CBD. The “Berkeley study”, where 96% of stage 4 Cancer patients who had a wide variety of Cancers achieved remission, used high dose Medical Marijuana oil, 72% THC, 28% CBD, 1 gram/day (oral) over a 90 day course of treatment. It was a small study, and not placebo controlled, but those kinds of results are clearly remarkable, have been widely reported on in the press, and demand the need for immediate large scale clinical trials.

    More and more present and former members of law enforcement agree about the need to end prohibition, and have formed a rapidly expanding group of current and former undercover cops, FBI, DEA, prosecutors and Judges, from all over the world, called

    LEAP — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

    because they’ve seen the damage prohibition causes to America and the world.

    See http://www.leap.cc/

    I’m a Scientist. Not a politician, not a cop.

    But as a Scientist with a strong interest in Cancer research, I feel even more strongly about the need to ensure that no Cancer patient is denied it, because I’m so impressed with its benefits for Cancer patients.

    I urge everyone reading this to PLEASE call and email the Attorney General, the press, Congress and the President today.

    Medical Marijuana helps with Alzheimer’s, Autism, Cancer, seizures, PTSD and chronic pain, and has helped many Americans, including many veterans, stop using Alcohol, and hard drugs, both legal and illegal ones.

    Every minute an American dies of Cancer.

    Every 19 minutes an American dies of a prescription drug overdose.

    Many vets become addicted to prescription opiates and die from them.

    NOBODY has ever died from smoking too much pot.

    Cancer patients are seeing remarkable results using high dose Medical Marijuana oil, in many cases achieving complete remission, even for stage 4 cancers — there are many excellent articles on the web, and videos on youtube with patient’s personal stories about their experiences with it — and every Cancer patient that uses Marijuana to ease their suffering benefits greatly from doing so.

    It is immoral to leave Marijuana illegal, for anyone, for even a second longer.

    For Cancer patients, its a matter of life and death.

    Cancer patients can’t wait.

    Medical Marijuana has an unmatched safety profile, and for people who suffer from so many diseases, of so many kinds, its a medical miracle — and the scientific evidence behind it is rock solid.

    For Cancer patients, Medical Marijuana encourages apoptosis and autophagy of Cancer cells, while leaving normal cells untouched, is anti-angigogenic, anti-proliferative, and is anti-angiogenic.

    Its also synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, making both more effective.

    For many Cancer patients its meant the difference between life and death.

    For everyone else, its a far safer alternative to Alcohol, and infinitely safer than Cigarettes.

    Either take them off the market too, or legalize Marijuana right now.

    2016 is too far away, Its too long to wait. Every year we lose more Americans to Cancer than died in WWII.

    Between now and the 2016 elections, roughly 1 MILLION Americans will die of Cancer.

    And Its a horrible way to die.nt 2.

  3. Rick Gardner says:

    You right wing R’s can try to delay it all you want but it’s coming… just like gay marriage its coming.

  4. William says:

    ………………………… FREE the WEED …………………………….

  5. Lynn says:

    They can stick their head in the sand all they want. No medical marijuana will keep the hoods on the streets in business illegally and Florida will not have any taxes from it. Or they can pull the rug out from under the illegal dealers, allow this to be used as medicine and closely monitored by physicians for the cases it could be useful in treating. Then taxes will be paid on it. Up to them if they want the crime with no taxes being paid or the medicine with taxes.

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