By Steven Peters — There is no question that the many proposed bills, and the bills that have passed the legislative committees and senate in Florida are vying to bring medical marijuana (MMJ) to people living with certain ailments and diseases.
And there have been quite a few bills, some passing committee and others dying on the floor.
It seems with every passing month, that politicians in Tallahassee, or advocates of MMJ, have been trying to introduce their own version of a comprehensive medical marijuana bill that will work for everyone. But not to our dismay, they won’t work for everyone for varying reasons.
Like bureaucrats always seem to do, they muck it up and complicate matters to such a point that it makes it almost impossible for the children and adults who are suffering, to receive medical marijuana that they desperately need. Meanwhile, they continue suffering at the hands of politicians until many simply cannot hold on any longer and die because they couldn’t get MMJ to treat their chronic life-threatening symptoms and diseases.
Charlotte’s Web, a MMJ strain high in CBD’s, which has medicinal value and treats numerous ailments and diseases, has been stuck in a bureaucratic web of red tape for over a year ever since it was passed in Florida.
It is gaining some momentum in the chambers of the senate in Tallahassee, with revisions and additions added to the bill to cover more qualifying conditions, but a year later, it still has not become law in full effect with the infrastructure needed to have Charlotte’s Web available to patients in Florida.
With every bill that has been submitted, one key factor has been left out of the equation: a majority of chronically ill patients cannot afford to buy medical marijuana.
There are hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients in the state of Florida, and of those, a high percentage of them are on disability, are low income families, or on a fixed income from social security. That demographic is growing exponentially every year.
Insurance companies do not cover MMJ because of its illegality at the federal level, so that leaves out any financial help from insurance companies, which leaves sick patients without MMJ because they simply cannot afford to buy it.
Charlotte’s Web in Colorado, where it’s legal, as well in many of the 24 states in the nation, including D.C., the cost on average is $600 to $1,000 for a one month supply. That price doesn’t include the yearly licensing fees, application fees, doctors fees, and other associated costs to deliver MMJ to a patient.
There is no question that when MMJ is made legal in Florida and other states, that people will suffer and die because they cannot afford to buy medical marijuana. It’s a harsh reality, but one that we must consider when these restrictive MMJ bills are submitted.
In one such state, PROPOSITION 215, the California Compassionate Use Act, was enacted by the voters and took effect on Nov. 6, 1996 as California Health & Safety Code 11362.5. The law makes it legal for patients and their designated primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use given the recommendation or approval of a California-licensed physician.
SB420, a legislative statute, went into effect on January 1, 2004 as California H&SC 11362.7-.83. This law broadens Prop. 215 to transportation and other offenses in certain circumstances; allows patients to form medical cultivation “collectives” or “cooperatives”; and establishes a voluntary state ID card system run through county health departments. SB 420 also establishes guidelines or limits as to how much patients can possess and cultivate.
There is no question that John Morgan has championed the fight for the legalization of medical marijuana. But Ben Pollara of United for Care, and Morgan have both made it clear they will not pursue any provisions in their new bill for a patient to grow their own medicine.
They are seeking to have a new initiative placed on the ballot in 2016 without the possibility of having patients or their caregivers grow the medicine that they need.
There are currently 24 states including Washington D.C., over half of which have provisions within their bills that allow the ability of patients and caregivers to grow their own medical marijuana. They place limits on the quantities and other legal statutes that oversee the growing of marijuana, and by doing this, it allows patients to have affordable safe access to this medicine without the exorbitant costs associated with it.
Isn’t that what compassion really is? Not placing unreasonable restrictions upon thousands of sick patients so that they can get the medicine they need by growing it themselves?
Isn’t it time that Floridians have the same opportunities as other states in the country?