Pledging that it is only a start, a Florida House panel gave a thumbs-up Tuesday to a medical-marijuana proposal castigated by supporters of a constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis for a broad swath of patients with debilitating conditions.
The House Health Quality Subcommittee overwhelmingly approved the measure (HB 1397), sponsored by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, with just one “no” vote after nearly three hours of public testimony.
“I believe this is a measured approach,” Rodrigues, R-Estero said, “but I will caution you that it is not the final product.”
The Rodrigues proposal would prohibit smoking of cannabis products, as well as edibles, and would ban all but terminally ill patients from using vaporizers to consume medical marijuana, one of the biggest objections to the bill raised by supporters of the constitutional amendment.
Known as Amendment 2, the ballot initiative was approved by more than 71 percent of Florida voters in November. It came after the Legislature in 2014 and 2016 passed far-more limited medical marijuana laws, allowing non-euphoric cannabis for some patients and full-strength marijuana for people with terminal illnesses.
The House bill would provide fewer additional licenses for purveyors of medical marijuana than a Senate plan would allow. Currently seven “dispensing organizations” have been approved by state health regulators.
Another point of contention in the House proposal would require health officials to grant medical marijuana licenses to applicants that lost out when vying to become one of the handful of operators authorized to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric cannabis products more than a year ago.
The proposal would require the Department of Health to grant another five licenses once the patient population reaches 200,000, and another three licenses for every additional 100,000 patients registered in a state database.
That’s in contrast with a leading Senate proposal, which would require the state to issue five new licenses by the end of the year and up to 20 new licenses — nearly quadruple the current number of seven — by the time the patient registry reaches 500,000.
Rodrigues’ legislation would also maintain a required three-month relationship between patients and doctors before health care providers could order the marijuana treatment, something critics say is detrimental.
Opponents of the constitutional amendment — including Drug Free America and Save Our Society from Drugs — are throwing their support behind the Rodrigues bill.
Calvina Fay, executive director of St. Petersburg-based Drug Free America, told the panel Tuesday she was pleased the proposal “has incorporated many of our recommendations.”
But Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the political committee that backed Amendment 2, harshly criticized the House plan, saying it “was written for the less than 29 percent who voted ‘no’ rather than the over 71 percent who voted ‘yes’ “” on the amendment.
“This proposal undermines and contradicts the Constitution, the will of 71 percent of Floridians, and would impose significant, arbitrary barriers to patient access,” Pollara said.
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
Not surprising that the Florida Legislature would ignore the 71% who voted for an expansive medical marijuana amendment. If they only had that tenacity when it comes to prescription drugs and opiates.
Miah Mahoney says
I’m confused. Does Tallahassee want less government (i.e. removing vacation rental restrictions) or more government (i.e. placing tons of restrictions on medical marijuana)?
The people of Florida are being played for fools. You constitutional rights mean nothing and you have no say over your lives. If you can’t inhale or ingest the medicine than how may I ask a you to consume it?
It’s obvious that this panel has no heart when it comes to our sick children and adults in this state. Hey veterans of Florida sorry bout your luck, maybe you should move from this state if you want healthy medicine and not pills.
I guess i am going to be taking oxycodone instead…. Thanks again lawmakers, good job…
Thanks alot from a Stage4 cancer patient
When are these elected officials going to stop turning a blind eye to all the patients who can benefit from this amendment? It’s not fair to give these people hope only to take it away. I have a loved one who could benefit from this. He is not considered terminal, but is in pain everyday. He has never smoked a day in his life, but is willing to do anything for a couple of pain free hours a day. Stop already and give the people what they want.
Guess what very powerful industries are lobbying (AKA bribing officials) against the legalization of pot. . . this from the International Business Times:
Opponents of marijuana legalization argue that decriminalizing pot increases crime, creates juvenile delinquents and can even lead to more marijuana-related deaths. But there is another reason for the crusade against marijuana that involves some people losing lots of money as the country becomes increasingly pot friendly, according to a recent report from The Nation and a study by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The biggest players in the anti-marijuana legalization movement are pharmaceutical, alcohol and beer companies, private prison corporations and police unions, all of whom help fund lobby groups that challenge marijuana law reform. In 2010, California Beer and Beverage Distributors funneled $10,000 to Public Safety First, a political action committee, or PAC, that led the opposition to California’s Prop 19. The initiative, if passed, would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state.
Corrections Corporations of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., has spent nearly $1 million a year on lobbying efforts. The company even stated in a report that “changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances … could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
ed james says
glad to hear the state wants it controlled properly and not the casual user!!
Stop voting republican. Stop voting for taking away rights, liberties and freedoms. Stop voting for corruption. Stop voting for leaking gas pipelines being built through our rare underground freshwater aquifiers.
Welcome to Flori-DUH
People need to stop voting for the party and start voting for the candidate. Look at their track records. If they have voted yes on things that you agree with, then vote to re-elect. If they have voted yes for things you do not agree with, then find a new candidate and get rid of them. You get to fire them every 2 years if they don’t do what YOU want them to do. Mr. Renner and Mr. Hudson, you are on notice.
Wishful Thnking says
All I can think of is that these buffons must be smokin’ some pretty lousy stuff to require a terminally ill patient to also have a proven ‘established’ relationship with their doctor before they can use a vaporizer. How many people on life support or with breathing tubes up their nose can handle a vaporizer? Time to send these idiots to Washington, Colorado, California where they can get some ‘good’ stuff themselves before coming up with these out of this world mind-boggling restrictions and learn how to read as well since they are contorting what we – their employers-voted upon. Time to give them pink slips…
I have a personal interest in this issue. Once again, people with little or no medical training have decided that they have a right to inject themselves in the doctor patient relationship. If my MD believes that marijuana would be of benefit to me and he is prohibited from prescribing it in a method he believes to be appropriate for my medical situation because of people in Tallahassee who “know what’s best for me”, then I guess I will have to start hanging around the high school parking lot to get my supply. This asinine attempt to circumvent the will of the people affects me and it doesn’t. I am not terminal, but I am a 70 year old retired professional, USAF 1967 to 1971, with ALS. When are they going to leave me alone in peace with my disease?
Just legalize Reefer once and for all and get it over with.
I’m a little confused… Is our legislature under the impression that if they pass these restrictions, they will eliminate pot-smoking in the community? It was NEVER legal in FLORIDA, yet I can throw a rock and probably hit 5 dealers and at least 100 smokers! Legalizing it will at least let you know some of the people that HAVE it–as opposed to now, when you only guess bc it is everywhere! Keeping your blinders on, closing the shades, putting “restrictions” on it—none of this will make it “go away”. It never has, and it never will. And just for the record, I know a 68-yr-old woman who accidentally ingested her roommates’ edibles (brownies)–and it wasn’t legal at that time, either.
Please, please, please—you old fossils need to either get a frickin clue, or hurry up and die off already so the new regime can take over and finally cure the things you are too scared of. Seriously.
Sidenote : Wouldn’t it be ironic, if the things the old farts died of were things medical marijuana could cure? That would be awesome.
John dolan says
We need to drain the swamp in Tallahassee.