Florida patients might be doomed if the state’s medical marijuana program continues to be hashed out by the suits in Tallahassee. Earlier last week, a couple of influential lawmakers submitted a bill to the state’s House of Representatives, which aims to provide only those patients considered “terminally ill” with access to cannabis. This ultra-restrictive proposal was apparently designed to ensure Florida’s walking dead has medicine effective in easing the pain associated with the end of life, while continuing to discount those patients that still reside among the living.
Although not a single patient has yet to benefit from the state’s 2014 Charlotte’s Web law, which allows specific patients suffering from seizure disorders to obtain the non-intoxicating strain, the bill’s authors — Senators Rob Bradley and Matt Gaetz — believe their latest proposal would compliment the current program by providing dying patients with an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.
“The people in our communities who care about cannabis reform, who want to be able to die without being jacked up with opiates and without being in excruciating pain are visiting their legislators,” Senator Gaetz said in a statement. “They are making phone calls. They’re sending emails, and it’s working.”
The proposal — House Bill 307 — was drafted as an attachment to a new state law referred to as the “Right to Try Act,” which gives terminally ill patients permission to use experimental medications that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Essentially, the bill seeks to allow dying patients to have access to all forms of marijuana as long as they can get two licensed physicians to sign off on it.
Despite the seemingly good intentions surrounding the lawmakers’ latest proposal, it might be in the best interest of the state if they would simply refrain from drafting any more legislation pertaining the legalization of marijuana. That’s because team Bradley and Gaetz were the masterminds behind the state’s 2014 Charlotte’s Web law, which continues to have no functionality in the state due to a myriad of issues, including arguments over the program’s regulatory affairs. Furthermore, the current law, much like the proposal catering to the terminally ill, stops short of treating patients suffering from a variety of conditions.
Fortunately, John Morgan’s group, United for Care, which is pushing to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot to legalize a full-scale medical marijuana market, is well on their way to obtaining the necessary signatures to see that the issue is put in front of the voters again next year. In 2014, the organization missed achieving this goal by only two points due to Florida law mandating that a constitutional amendment must be approved by 60 percent of the voters.
Although Bradley and Gaetz suggest they are not trying to foil United for Care’s attempt to legalize medical marijuana on a much larger scale, they argue that the issue is one that would be best dealt with by the State Legislature.
“This is a job for legislators to do, not the blunt instrument of a constitutional amendment,” Bradley said.
We couldn’t disagree more. Florida lawmakers have proved over the past year that they cannot so much as launch a program that distributes weed with no psychoactive elements without countless issues and hang-ups. And with the Florida Department of Health reportedly still reviewing applications to determine the eight companies that will cultivate the state’s THC-free pot, it is conceivable that qualified patients will not see the program officially up and running until 2016 – two years after the law was passed.