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Medical Marijuana

Florida’s Medical Marijuana Facing Obstacles Placed by State and Monopoly Interests

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Florida’s misnamed Office of Compassionate Use seems not to know the meaning of the word compassion.

Supporters of Florida’s recently approved medical marijuana program are having to fight tooth and nail to get the program off the ground. They’re angry, and many are ill and in desperate need, reports Miami Herald columnist, Fred Grimm.

Office of Compassionate Use bureaucrats began hearing testimony this week around Florida, and, according to the Miami Herald, they are completely disregarding all of the “heart-rending testimony from the dying, diseased and debilitated,” the pleas from would-be cannabis farmers and entrepreneurs, as well as the voices of voters who approved of allowing medical doctors to prescribe cannabis.

On Election Day, Florida’s Amendment 2 passed by a landslide with over 71 percent of the vote. That was after two tries, three years and more than $11 million.

The amendment, in effect since January 3, is only five pages long, which means there is still a lot to work out.

Instead of working out the issues, the Office of Compassionate Use is now trying to change the rules that would allow the Florida Board of Medicine to preempt a doctor’s decision to prescribe MMJ; it is also attempting to limit the 10 treatable conditions.

This rule change, a blatant violation of doctor-patient confidentiality, would also require a 90-day waiting period before a patient could actually fill their MMJ prescriptions. And, patients will not be permitted to smoke medical cannabis, the least expensive delivery system.

The Miami Herald pointed out that these proposed rules also contemplate that Florida’s billion-dollar medical marijuana industry would remain in the grip of seven, politically influential operations—“monopolies that each hold an exclusive license to grow, process and dispense marijuana in designated geographic areas.”

These proposed rules will be adopted in July, supposedly only after public hearings.

The Miami Herald pointed out that the “undersized hearing venues” chosen by the Office of Compassionate Use were inconvenient and not conducive to large public attendance.

“Shows you just how damned interested they were in hearing us,” said Manny Giraldo, who suffers from a chronic and painful back ailment and ended up limping away in disgust. “You think they were surprised that so many of us showed up? I doubt it.”

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano described the exact same lack of respect for attendees at hearings in other places around Florida.

Nearly 50 people took the microphone at the University of South Florida campus before officials had to shut down the forum. According to the Tampa Bay Times, just about every single speaker implored Health Department officials to go easy on restrictions and regulations.

“We’re talking about epilepsy, ALS, Parkinson’s, cancer. And you want to put conditions on access? What was the point of passing Amendment 2?” asked Lindsey Patton, a pharmaceutical rep whose 2-year-old daughter died in 2015 from epilepsy-related causes. “I understand when people rip on the pharmaceutical industry, but we don’t hold a candle to what’s going on here. This is sinister.”

People from all walks of life spoke from personal experience: parents with autistic children, a veteran with PTSD, people with leukemia, Crohn’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

One woman, Jessica Duncan, talked about the small fiber nerve damage that left her feeling suicidal until discovering cannabis oil.

“Access should be easy, it shouldn’t require jumping through hoops,” Duncan said. “Just listen to the stories. Kids are suffering, and they don’t need to be. It just seems like it’s all about money.”

What’s to be done?

God forbid people in desperate need of medical marijuana should grow their own and bypass the encroaching, insidious state monopolies standing in the way of their health and wellbeing. Florida certainly has the sunshine.

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