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Patient Advocates Say Florida Proposal Would Be Illegal

January 17, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida health officials have begun the rules-making process that will expand those eligible to receive medical marijuana under Amendment 2, which took effect two weeks ago.

The Department of Health published proposed rules Tuesday and announced that public hearings will be held in five cities between Feb. 6 and Feb. 9.

Amendment 2 was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters on Election Day. It took effect on Jan. 3 and will allow higher-strength cannabis to be used for a wider list of medical ailments once a new set of rules are adopted and implemented.

The state legislature and Department of Health have until July to revise current rules and until September to implement them.

The proposal has already drawn sharp criticism from the group behind the amendment’s passage.


Congratulations, Florida. Now You’re In for a Fight

Ben Pollara, who is the campaign manager for United for Care, said in a statement that the proposed rule stands in contradiction to the amendment.

“If DOH’s rule is implemented as written, it will be in clear violation of Florida law,” he said. “Why DOH would choose to engage in a policymaking exercise which ignores both the law and the role of the legislature in implementing the law is a mystery.”

Pollara encouraged the department and Florida Legislature to take a more broad-minded approach to the revisions instead of merely configuring current statutes into the confines of the amendment.

The current law — approved by the state legislature in 2014 — allows for non-smoked, low-THC cannabis for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms. It was expanded last March to allow patients with terminal conditions to gain access to higher strength cannabis.

The proposed rule allows only patients with one of 10 diagnoses to have access to medical cannabis. The amendment’s ballot language, though, allows doctors to order medical cannabis if they “believe the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks.”

It also does not allow for more distributing organizations. There are currently seven licensed, with one more case under an administrative challenge.

Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said Tuesday that “we look forward to receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rulemaking process.”

The Florida Legislature will also have a big say in the new rules. The state House and Senate have already held policy workshops with more scheduled before their 60-day session begins on March 7.

Tallahassee attorney Colin Roopnarine sees Tuesday’s proposal as the first step in the process.

“You have to start somewhere and they can’t start with everything in place. Everyone wants to have their say and see if they can have their impact,” said Roopnarine, who has worked as an attorney for various state agencies. “This is way to get things started and then ramping up and modifying efforts based on what may be coming legislation.”

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  • Moi_encore

    “Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said Tuesday that “we look forward to receiving input from all interested stakeholders through the open and transparent rulemaking process.”…….

    Lets hope what they meant by ALL INTERESTED STAKEHOLDERS, they meant 350,000,000 fellow American’s stakeholder interests in their FREE plant, with unhindered, unabashed access through self-reliance, as is up here, akin to Canada’s Charter protections..

    As well, this idiocy of negligently-self-appointed gate-keeper rackets abound is beyond reprehensible..

    Back off & leave the plant to the people to utilize in ways we’ve never been allowed to know how to use…. and may the endless list be discovered exponentially ~ once all problematic energies in the way of Cannabis’ outright return by next morning have been plowed off the road & the highway is reopened once-&-for-ALL! Emphasis on the ALL part..

    Onward we ALL GROW anyway, as clearly defined yet negligently ignored over the past Crime of the Century, by our Canadian Charter protections as well the State’s Constitution regarding self reliance & free access to primal life-supporting natural bounty, including Cannabis.

    And with 33.33% of personal Cannabis use earmarked for MEDICINAL, 33.33% for THERAPEUTIC & 33.33% for PREVENTATIVE use, this leaves a grande total of 0.01% for a so-called illicitly-manifested yet totally unacceptable ‘recreational’ use of Cannabis… the only ‘taxable’ aspect of this all….. as Cannabis IS a VITAMIN ~ not a vice..

    So, the sooner we all take our individual responsibility toward admitting this plant belongs to no ONE, & that it belongs to ALL equally ~ the better.. straight up, no more discussion, really..

    By Spring 2017 up here, North of the border, anyway.. starting our already somewhat close-to-complete FIXING of old illegal laws of a sad bygone era of corporately-lobbied political greed & nothing but.. time to get the thespian’s gatehouse facades off the road & in the way.

    Part of the problem or part of the solution.. Quick – choose!

    I choose personal garden & family-run farm produce every time.. vs. corporately-grown irradiated excuses, let alone having someone play god with Mother Nature’s best free gift like a wanton wannabe sandbox bully, Johnny-come-lately racketeer thinking what they are doing is right.. Two wrongs will never make a right, never did & never will.. sunrise the next morning, a simple return & simple fix..

  • JeffWalenta

    It’s clear that ballot initiatives going foreword have to be as strict as possible on modifications or the legislature will just ignore the will of the people and do whatever the hell they feel like. I knew we would see shenanigans with this it was only a matter of time. Floridians should be working on funding a recreational ballot initiative for 2018 so they can clearly demonstrate the failure of their representation on this issue.