Just two weeks after the legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis repealed a ban on smoking medical cannabis in the face of a lawsuit, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would limit cannabis flowers to just 10% THC. The bill, HB7117, now heads to the Florida House floor.
This THC limit would leave patients behind who respond best to medical cannabis with higher proportions of THC.
THC has proven medical benefits, including relieving nausea and appetite loss. Patients who benefit from strains of cannabis that have more than 10% THC deserve legal access to the medical cannabis they need to treat their conditions.
Patients and their allies in Florida have fought for years to establish a comprehensive system to create safe access to medical cannabis. This bill would roll back progress that has been made and is an affront to the 71% of voters who enacted the state’s medical cannabis law.
Ask your representatives to support patients across the Sunshine State and vote NO on HB7117. Then, forward this message to your friends and family in Florida and encourage them to do the same.
On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives sent a bill to allow patients to smoke medical cannabis to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk. In February, Gov. DeSantis called on lawmakers to send him a bill that would repeal the ban, after a court ruling in 2018 deemed the ban unconstitutional. The bill passed the Senate last week by a vote of 38-0.
Repealing the smoking ban will allow patients and their doctors greater access to administer medical cannabis and to decide for themselves which mode of administration is most appropriate for them. The bill will take effect as soon as the governor signs it.
Additionally, the bill allows patients to receive up to 2.5 ounces of whole flower cannabis every 35 days as recommended by their doctor and requires patients under the age of 18 to have a terminal condition and to get a second opinion from a pediatrician before smoking medical cannabis.
Patients and their allies in Florida have fought for years to establish a comprehensive system to create safe access to medical cannabis. Gov. DeSantis signing this much-needed legislation into law will mark a great victory for patients across the Sunshine State.
In some parts of the state, registered voters can cast their ballot early beginning today! The early voting schedule varies by county and will end on Saturday, November 3. Florida’s general election is set for Tuesday, November 6.
Here’s a look at where gubernatorial candidates stand on marijuana policy reform: Andrew Gillum (D) supports legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, while Ron DeSantis (R) opposes legalization but is supportive of implementing Florida’s medical marijuana law. You can find information on Florida’s current marijuana policies here.
For more information on early voting and Election Day voting, including where you can cast your ballot and when voting locations will be open, check out the state’s elections website here.
Please forward this to your network, and be sure to get out and vote!
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 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.
The Florida Legislature reached an agreement to regulate medical marijuana in Florida resulting in Senator Rob Bradley filing SB-8A. Without this special session bill, the Florida Department of Health would have likely issued unduly restrictive regulations.
The bill calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year. Five new licenses would go to previous applicants, and the other five would go to new applicants. Additionally, the bill requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.
Also, the number of dispensaries each grower can open will be capped at 25 – resolving the dispute that prohibited lawmakers from passing a regulation bill during regular session.
While this implementation bill is a huge step in the right direction, there is still work to be done in Florida in the coming months and years. Specifically, the bill does not fully allow patients to decide how to take medical marijuana and advocates in the Sunshine state have expressed a willingness to challenge this issue in court.
The amendment requires laws be in place by July and enacted by October, and because of this special session, it seems that the legislature will meet that target date.
Florida Politics reports:
The Florida Epilepsy Foundation has endorsed proposed Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on Florida’s Nov. 8 ballot.
“Important medical decisions, such as treatments and medications, should be made by licensed physicians who know their patients best. That’s why the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, along with the national Epilepsy Foundation, supports Amendment 2,” Karen Basha Egozi, chief executive officer of the organization, said Tuesday in a written statement.
“Florida’s epilepsy patients should have available whatever treatment options their doctors recommend, including medical marijuana,” she said.
The proposal would allow cannabis use by people “with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.”
It provides legal protections for caregivers helping them administer the drug, subject to oversight by the state Department of Health.
Monday brought welcoming news to seriously ill patients in Florida: The Florida Supreme Court declared the medical marijuana constitutional initiative fit for November’s ballot! If passed, this initiative will allow individuals with debilitating conditions to use marijuana if their doctor recommends it. Since this initiative would amend the state’s constitution, it needs 60% support to pass. Please make sure you are registered to vote now, so that your voice will count come November.
Last week, the state confirmed that the campaign, United for Care, had submitted enough valid signatures to make the ballot. The only hurdle left before officially making the ballot was surviving the legal challenge brought by Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi argued the summary of the measure (which was written by its proponents) didn’t accurately explain what the initiative would do. She also claimed the measure violated Florida’s requirement that ballot questions be limited to a single subject. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, disagreed.
The Florida Legislature has refused to act on the numerous medical marijuana proposals brought before it by medical marijuana champions. This November, you have the opportunity to bypass the legislature by voting “yes” on medical marijuana, but only if you’re registered to vote. Finally, please be sure to spread the word to your friends and family in Florida.
Last week, the political blustering of federal lawmakers once again resulted in a law that unfairly targets marijuana users without any proof of effectiveness. On Friday, Congress reached a payroll and benefits deal that allows states to drug test any person applying for unemployment benefits if that person is looking for work in a field where drug testing is commonplace.
Thankfully, states have the option to not take part in this plan. The recent surge in states considering such policies, however, may mean that they may soon become much more common.
Florida’s experience with drug testing people applying for public benefits should have been a wake-up call for lawmakers. After passing a bill requiring unemployment beneficiaries to submit drug tests, Florida authorities soon discovered that not only was drug use extremely rare among those applying for assistance, but drug testing was actually costing the taxpayers more money! The whole point of the law was to decrease costs, so that tough-on-crime politicians could grandstand about how tax dollars in their districts aren’t buying drugs for lazy people.
Congress really needs to stop wasting its time worrying about the tiny percentage of people on public assistance that are marijuana users and instead consider all the taxpayer money they are wasting by arresting people for marijuana use at all.