On Wednesday, Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Joseph Redner, a 77-year-old cancer patient, may grow his own marijuana plants. Redner is a registered medical marijuana patient in Florida. Unfortunately, the Department of Health has already filed an appeal and will fight the decision.
Tampa Bay Times reports:
The ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers applies only to Redner, 77. The Florida Department of Health responded quickly, filing an appeal.
The department had said Floridians are barred under state rules from growing cannabis for their personal use, including those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients.
But Redner and other critics across the state say the health department continues to create barriers for more than 95,000 registered patients in Florida that could benefit from marijuana. Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a registered medical marijuana patient.
"Under Florida law, Plantiff Redner is entitled to possess, grow and use marijuana for juicing, soley for the purpose of his emulsifying the biomass he needs for the juicing protocol recommended by his physician," Gievers said in her ruling. The word "solely" is bolded and underlined for emphasis in the document.
"The court also finds … that the Florida Department of Health has been, and continues to be non-compliant with the Florida constitutional requirements," the judge added, referring to the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 that made medical marijuana legal.
Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot of Clearwater, said the judge was right to "castigate the health department for being a barrier to medicine."
While this ruling only applies to Joseph Redner, it most certainly opens the door for other Florida patients to finally be allowed to cultivate their medicine at home.
The Florida Senate Health Committee convened this morning and received an update from Christian Bax, Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, on the implementation of regulations in Senate Bill 8A, which was passed by the legislature this summer.
The discussion focused on the application structure for adding additional medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs). Last month, a lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of part of the state law that requires a medical marijuana license to go to a black farmer, and today the Office of Medical Marijuana Use said it will not issue any new licenses until the lawsuit is resolved.
When further questioned by the committee, Director Bax said, “We want to move the process as quickly as possible forward,” but cited concerns of legislative process that might invalidate the Department of Health’s licensing. If you’d like to watch Christian Bax’s testimony, the Florida Senate’s Health Policy meeting can be found on its website.
Amendment 2 established a deadline of October 3, 2017 for the Department of Health to issue additional MMTC licenses. If you are a Florida resident, please contact the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, and ask Director Bax to end the delay in medical marijuana licensing so that patients can have more access to treatment.
The Florida Department of Health has proposed regulations to establish the procedure to apply for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses and to outline the evaluation process for applicants. The application is posted on the Office of Compassionate Use website, and applicants may begin completing applications for submission.
In order to become a licensed MMTC, each applicant is required to submit financial statements and to pass a background check. The law regulating Amendment 2 provides for 10 new licenses to be granted to growers in the state in addition to the seven that already exist and would require another four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.
Seattle Times reports:
Youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment admissions have not increased in Washington since marijuana was legalized, according to a new analysis by the state Legislature’s think tank.
Under Initiative 502, the state’s legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is required to conduct periodic cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.
The think tank’s findings on youth use were not surprising as they were based on a biannual survey by the state Department of Health of students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades released earlier this year.
Pot use by students in all four grade levels was stable or has fallen slightly since I-502 was enacted, the WSIPP report said.
For instance, 17 percent of the 10,835 high-school sophomores surveyed last year said they consumed pot in the previous month. The level was 18 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2010.
Legalization was approved by Washington voters in November 2012. Legal sales began in July 2014.
The study also found that admissions to public treatment centers for cannabis abuse had fallen since legalization took effect, and that the cannabis industry had created more than six thousand full-time jobs.
On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced important steps forward for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program — practitioners can now register online, and the department approved two options for physician training.
Under Act 16, a doctor can only issue a certification for medical marijuana after registering with the Department of Health. The law also requires the physician complete a four-hour training course. The department has approved the first two providers of training courses, The Answer Page Inc. and Extra Step Assurance LLC.
For medical marijuana programs to work, doctors need to participate. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, talk to your doctor, and take a copy of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Law: A Guide for Doctors and Patients with you for the conversation. Other materials are also available on MPP’s Pennsylvania page and our medical marijuana page.
It is unclear at this time when the department will begin accepting applications and issuing identification cards for patients and caregivers. Earlier in the summer, the department announced the first round of business permits, including 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits, which may each have up to three locations. It will take some time for the businesses to open and begin dispensing cannabis, but registered patients may have access as soon as early 2018.
On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed medical marijuana regulation legislation into law. The legislature passed SB 8A in a special session after the regular session ended without a bill to implement Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana and was supported by 71% of voters last year.
The new law outlines licensing for 10 new companies as growers by October, which would increase the statewide total to 17. The law also allows patients, with a doctor’s recommendation, to use medical marijuana in the form of pills, oils, and edibles. Patients may engage in vaping, but unfortunately, the law does ban smoking.
Additionally, the Department of Health is simultaneously working to regulate the amendment. Spokeswoman Mara Gambineri says the department is crafting rules to comply with SB 8A, “which provides a framework for patients to access marijuana safely.”
Amendment 2 gives health officials until July 3 to craft rules to regulate the amendment and until October 3 to implement those rules.
H.B. 1488 adds rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis to the list of qualifying conditions and allows patients and caregivers to access testing facilities. Patients and caregivers will be allowed to cultivate three additional plants of any maturity, for a total of 10 plants. The phasing out of caregivers’ ability to grow marijuana plants for patients has been pushed back five years, to the end of 2023.
The new law, which goes into effect on June 29, also authorizes the Department of Health to permit current licensees to open one additional dispensary — for a possible total of 24 statewide — and allows them to cultivate more plants at their production sites. It also amends certain deadlines and relaxes overly restrictive laboratory standards to accelerate implementation.
With the updated regulations, laboratories should find it easier to meet the requirements for certification. Several dispensaries are ready to start serving patients but cannot do so until they can submit their products for the required testing.
Congratulations and thank you to Gov. Ige, the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, and all of the advocates and lawmakers who made these improvements possible.