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New marijuana rules under fire from advocates

January 18th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Will Florida voters get what they asked for when they voted to legalize medical marijuana? That’s the question tonight, because as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a proposed rule implementing voters intentions isn’t finding favor with the amendments authors.

Just 1800 people currently qualify for either low or high thc medical marijuana in Florida All come under the law approved before voters overwhelmingly said yes to Amendment two in November. During a legislative hearing Christian Bax, the Director of the Office of Compassionate Use said the state is trying to force amendment 2 regulations into existing law.

“We believe that there is a way the current framework can be wedded to Amendment 2.”

Advocates say the state is basically trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, trying to use an old regulatory scheme when voters asked for something completely different.

The proposed rule has two major problems say advocates. It attempts to keep just the seven approved growers who also distribute and sell without adding more. Marijuana lobbyists Ron Watson says thats a problem for consumers,

“Imagine you had a pharmacy, and the only thing you could get at the pharmacy was made by one manufacturer. you would have a Merck pharmacy and the only way to get Astrazeneca product is to drive across town and go to another pharmacy to get it” says Watson, who lobbies for the Sarasota based AltMed.

A second problem is the constitutional language that allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for unlisted debilitating diseases. The rule wants a medical board to approve those diseases, but constitutional author Ben Pollera says that’ s not what people intended,

“I think its pretty clear in black and that this is decision be made by the physician treating patients” said Pollera by phone.

New legislation  dealing with Amendment two could be filed as early as next week.

New Marijuana rules under fire00000007Five public hearings are scheduled for the week of February 6th and are being held:

— 2 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Duval County Health Department, 900 University Blvd. North in Jacksonville

— 10 a.m. on Feb. 7 at Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th Street in Fort Lauderdale

— 9 a.m. on Feb. 8 at the Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory, 3602 Spectrum Blvd.

— 6 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Orange County Health Department, 6102 Lake Ellenor Drive in Orlando; and

— 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148 in Tallahassee.

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