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Florida’s House Moves Forward with Increasingly Restrictive MMJ Bill

Photo by Mike Gustafson, courtesy of Kushman Genetics

Floridians have not had it easy in their effort to get what 71 percent of them voted for last November—medical marijuana.

Patients and advocates are frustrated as they struggle with prohibitionists who continue in their attempts to gut the most important elements of a hard fought battle for legal medical weed.

A House panel voted this week 14-to-1 for an MMJ proposal that is being viewed by supporters of legal medical weed as far too restrictive.

“This bill gets the policy wrong,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida for Care.

Introduced by Republican majority leader Ray Rodrigues, the proposal starts off by requiring that non-terminal patients must have a doctor at least 90 days before they can get a cannabis recommendation.

Three months? Good luck if you’re sick and need it.

It also prohibits smoking of any and all cannabis products, including consuming edibles and would ban all but terminally ill patients from vaping, which is one of the biggest objections raised by MMJ supporters.

Although Rodrigues implied that the 90-day requirement was up for discussion, smoking will not likely be allowed. How could that be?

Vaping was also up for discussion but only with a commitment that physicians are involved in deciding how patients can or should consume their medical marijuana.

Pollara says numerous provisions of the House bill violate “both the spirit and letter of the Florida Constitution and the will of 71 percent of the voters.”

“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, according to the Orlando Weekly.

Naturally, Florida’s minority prohibitionists are throwing their support behind the Rodrigues bill.

Pollara pointed out that Rodriques’s bill “was written for the less than 29 percent who voted ‘no’ rather than the over 71 percent who voted ‘yes'” on legalization.

Another point of contention in the House proposal would require health officials to grant medical marijuana licenses to applicants, which is dragging on at a snail’s pace in any case.

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.

At this point, 150,000 patients have registered and new applicants will only be allowed once there are 200,000 patients.

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