An overwhelming 71.3 percent of the vote in Florida passed the medical cannabis Amendment 2 bill which would allow physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana in any instance where they believe that its medical use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks” for their patients.
However, the proposed new rules the Florida Department of Health (DOH) seek to change would not permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to patients with chronic pain, and also would limit patients to one of only ten limited qualifying conditions.
The new DOH draft rules also seek to significantly minimize the number of licensed medical cannabis cultivators and providers, and are also considering limiting patients from legally accessing herbal forms of the product, instead requiring those in the program to consume cannabis-infused liquids or extracts.
So in other words, the whole plant in its natural form would be prohibited from sale.
Because of the new proposed rules by the DOH, there’s been a justifiable frenzy in the cannabis community, and they showed up in large numbers, an estimated 600 attendees, to speak their minds about these questionable new rules.
At the Department of Health in Fort Lauderdale, the meeting room at capacity, the crowd overflowed into an adjacent room outside of the meeting’s chamber, which filled up quickly into the front lobby for a public hearing about medical cannabis and the implementation of Amendment 2. One of the attendees stated:
“My condition doesn’t fall under amendment 2,” said a medical marijuana patient at the hearing. “I’m not a criminal, I’m a father of three. My wife is a teacher. I deserve the right to access proper medication at a proper price.”
Many are concerned about limited access to the medication. As it stands, there are only seven licensed dispensaries in the state. Another stated:
“Patients need and deserve access to this plant,” said a medical caretaker at the hearing. “They need a variety of strains of this plant and not just one. They need access that is affordable which, when you look at the vertical system, the costs are through the roof. I’m talking to patients who are being told $2500 to $5000 to treat their cancer.”
Daniel Oates, former Colorado police chief and current Miami Beach police chief, spoke for his city and chiefs across the state.
“We all want local control of how medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries operate,” said Oates. “It’s very important to law enforcement that 24 hours a day we know who is in lawful possession of marijuana.”
The superintendent of schools in Miami-Dade County is compassionate for the patients in need, but he’s asking for clear regulations.
“We’re looking for three things,” said Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade School Superintendent. “First, safe distance between dispensaries and schools no fewer than 2500 feet. Absolute prohibition in terms of packaging as candy and soft drinks that can send wrong message to kids. And third, let us have latitude of having regulations specific in the dispensaries of these products in the workplace to children as prescribed medication.”
For more information about other public hearings on the implementation of medical cannabis in other cities in Florida, visit this link.