The preceding is a summary article of the Florida Medical Marijuana Act ‘white paper’ which was submitted to the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Florida, The Florida Senate, and Legislative Staff.
Bill Wohlsifer, Attorney at Law who previously ran for Attorney General of Florida, has pulled together a group of volunteers with the express purpose of furthering the State of Florida’s hemp and medical marijuana program. Group members have reviewed Senate Bill 528 (2015) filed by Florida Senator Jeff Brandes (R) and House Bill 683 (2015) filed by Florida Representative Greg Steube’s.
Senator Brandes’ SB 528 (2015) was submitted by Bill Wohlsifer to a Core Group of cannabis advocates known as the Florida Cannabis Project Core Group. This group consists of volunteers who share a common goal to advance a medical marijuana program for Florida that includes all the strains and cannabinoids present in cannabis, without undue restriction.
KEY COMPONENTS OF THE ACT (SB 528)
1. A patient qualifies to use medical marijuana if he or she is certified by a physician to suffer from one or more of the medical conditions listed in the Act.
2. If a patient suffers from a condition that is not listed in the Act, the physician must certify that the patient has exhausted all other known available and reasonable medical treatment before qualifying for medical marijuana.
3. Once certified, a patient may apply to the Department of Health (DOH) for a medical marijuana registry ID card. If approved, the patient will be added to an “electronic medical marijuana patient registry.”
4. The data the physician must upload into the registry includes the quantity of medical-grade marijuana recommended for an up-to 30 day supply and state the concentrations of cannabinoids, if any. Reference: Line Items 108 through 112.
5. A Florida licensed physician must complete an 8-hour course prior to issuing patient certifications.
6. If a patient is under 21 years of age, two physicians must certify the qualifying condition or symptom.
7. A patient may designate a caregiver who meets the requirements in the Act, including background screening for caregivers who are not immediate family members. The caregiver will also receive an ID card and be added to the registry. One patient per caregiver, unless immediate family.
8. Each county’s board of county commissioners must decide if they will allow retail facilities, and if so, the number and locations of the retail facilities.
9. Each retail facility requires a separate license, but a single entity may hold more than one retail license. Costs: $10,000 per license, $1,000,000 security bond.
10. Retail facilities purchase medical-grade marijuana from cultivation and processing facilities that are licensed separately by the department. Costs: $100,000 per license, $5,000,000 bond.
11. A Cultivation and Processing dispensing organization ($100,000 license fee) must have each batch of medical-grade marijuana tested by an independent laboratory to ensure that it meets the health and safety standards to be determined by the DOH, and to specify the concentration levels of the individual cannabinoids. The testing may be done offsite.
12. Each batch of medical grade marijuana must be labeled, and packaged to meet the requirements in the Act prior to delivery to a retail facility.
13. A cultivation and processing licensee may also be issued one or more retail licenses, however, retail operations may not be conducted at the same location as cultivation and processing operations.
14. All licensed facilities are inspected by the DOH at licensing and at least once every two years upon license renewal by the and may also, by interagency agreement, conduct joint inspections with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
HOME GROW (AND THE “MEDICAL NECESSITY” DEFENSE)
While some patients will elect to purchase their cannabis or cannabis derived medicines at a local dispensary or have it delivered to their home or caregiver, others would prefer to grow their own. For some patients home grow may be the only affordable option. Florida Cannabis Project Core Group believes that any marijuana program governed by state law with the legislative intent to be a “compassionate use” law should include a provision for home grow.
Israel’s Medical Marijuana Program
The Florida Sheriff’s Association and Florida’s lawmakers are discussing qualifying conditions for cannabis use. The United States Department of Health and Human Services, parent organization of the DEA, FDA, and NIDA worked with and funded several of Israel’s cannabis programs. This work eventually led to the Department of Health and Human Services filing one of several medical marijuana patents.
It stands to reason that since U.S. tax dollars were utilized to aid Israel in their medical marijuana program and vet the ailments covered by cannabis, it would logically follow that Israel’s cannabis- covered ailments be the foundation for Florida’s program.
Israel has a population of approximately 8 million citizens and a mature cannabis program. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, MD, isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in 1964. In 1992, Dr. Mechoulam and colleagues Lumir Ondrej Hanus and William Anthony Devane isolated and described anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter in the human brain. The United States and Israel have collaborated on several cannabis studies via the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The United States is opposed to cannabis, yet there is a desire to aid Israel’s commitment to “the deep, fundamental Jewish principle to ease suffering, which many saw cannabis as doing.”
Security standards should be set by the Act or Department of Health, and if necessary altered or increased, in an effort to ensure the safety for the general public, security of the business, and to secure and record the operations of the business. Security may include logging the marijuana product out of the cultivation facility and logging it back into the dispensary to confirm nothing has been lost in between.
PHARMACEUTICAL CANNABIS BASED DRUGS
“Medical marijuana is all about getting high! There are no medical aspects to pot!”
How often have these words from the uninformed and uneducated, been vocalized or written within some groups of the socially conservative media? Cannabis is medicine with millions of dollars being expended on development and clinical testing using either plant-based cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid reproductions.
The conundrum is that the federal government maintains cannabis has no medicinal value, yet marches on approving cannabis based drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies. For example, Marinol is Schedule III, a synthetic THC cannabinoid utilized for control and maintenance of cancer pain and increasing appetite.
There are currently over 20 cannabis based drugs in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pipeline, which are in various stages of clinical testing. Currently, cannabis is Schedule I, which states cannabis has no medicinal value, yet pharmaceutical companies are spending millions of dollars developing cannabis based drugs consisting of various ratios of cannabinoids.
To read the Florida Medical Marijuana Act white paper in its entirety, please click here.
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