Twin Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Florida

Twin Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Florida state legislators introduced identical bills on Monday to legalize medical marijuana treatment in the 2014 legislative session, in a bid to win approval before a constitutional amendment on the issue comes up for a public vote in November.

Senators Jeff Clemens and Joe Saunders, both Democrats, brought numerous patients and their family members to the unveiling of their bill, which would effectively implement by statute the constitutional amendment that is on the November ballot

“This bill puts patients before politics,” said Cathy Jordan of Parrish, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, who has lived 28 years with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig Disease.

Jordan, whose speech is slurred by her illness, sat in her wheelchair next to her husband, Robert, who read her statement at a news conference in front of the Florida Senate.

The amendment, and the newly introduced legislation, would specify tight state regulation for doctors to prescribe marijuana for treatment of conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS and other severe afflictions.

Identically worded bills were introduced in both houses of the state legislature on Monday, offering greater ease of passage.  The bills are Senate Bill 962 and House Bill 859.

The session starting March 4 will mark the fourth year such a bill has been introduced. Republican legislative leaders, along with Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, vigorously oppose the constitutional amendment.

The Florida Supreme Court approved the ballot language on the amendment, though, and it will become law if 60 percent of the voters approve it next November.

Polls show the ballot proposal has a strong chance of success. If the amendment passes, Saunders said the 2015 Legislature will have to pass implementing legislation specifying “how will we grow it, how will people who need it get access to it and how will those who are seeking to abuse it receive consequences.”

While Republican leaders oppose the medical marijuana amendment, a separate bill allowing use of a non-euphoric marijuana extract known as “Charlotte’s Web” is also making progress in the Florida House. The derivative is drawn from a portion of the marijuana plant that does not get users high, but has shown results in treating seizures.

The constitutional amendment is seen as a driver for Democratic voter turnout at the polls in November. The petition campaign that put it on the ballot was bankrolled by Orlando attorney John Morgan, a close ally of former Governor Charlie Crist, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for another term as governor.

Crist supports the amendment and political observers expect the referendum will draw more young and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

  • fjpor

    My question is will either of these two bills restrict more the medical conditions for which medical cannibus can be used than will the amendment to be placed on the ballot in November? Anyone know?

    • Dusty Relic

      I’ve read the Senate bill. The House bill according to this article is “identical” so there should be no need to consult that as well. On the other hand neither version has been through the legislative process yet so they are both subject to amendment which makes all of the below information tentative.

      The list of qualifying conditions is comprehensive and not nearly as restrictive as what some states have. What I did not find however was a blanket clause for “any other condition commonly treated with medical cannabis” or words to that affect (which is in the proposed bill in PA), nor is a process defined for adding to the list of qualifying conditions, which means legislation will be required every time cannabis is found to be effective for a new indication.

      On the other hand the law does not appear to require disclosure by the patient or the physician of the exact condition that qualifies the patient for a cannabis registration card so the physician may have some discretion after all.

      “Qualifying medical condition” means:

      Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or positive
      status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Alzheimer’s disease or agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Anorexia; Cachexia;
      Cancer; Chronic debilitating pain; Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; Decompensated
      cirrhosis; Epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; Fibromyalgia; Glaucoma; Hepatitis C; Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease; Multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; Muscular dystrophy; Nail-patella syndrome; Neuroborreliosis; Organ transplantation; Painful peripheral neuropathy; Parkinson’s disease; Persistent nausea or severe emesis; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); or Terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life.

      “Qualifying medical treatment” means: Chemotherapy; Radiotherapy; The use of azidothymidine or protease inhibitors; or Treatment of a qualifying medical condition as specified [above].

      The act allows for possession of up to 250 grams (~ 1/2 pound) per patient and up to 8 mature and 8 immature plants (for a total of 16 plants which is more generous than most states). Patients can buy up to 250 g per month or up to 6 plants per month. Caregivers are restricted by the same amounts times the number of patients that they have with no apparent maximum number of patients but a minimum age of 18.

      • fjpor

        Again, although I would qualify under several of those listed above, I wonder at how much additional testing or “head shrink” qualifiers they are going to add to that list as it goes on. I have already spoken with my physician here -who I thought would NOT prescribe it – and he said that he believes that I do and that, yes, he would write the script. Surprised – very pleased as did not want to have to start doctor shopping for someone else as I had done before it took me years to find him after moving back to my home state and going doctor-less for many, many years. i guess I am just at the point in my life where I believe little and question all most especially when it comes to these clowns passing legislation in a state that is so red it bleeds. Rick Scott and Pam Bondi (Bondo!!) are two of the reasons we have such a screwed up state and I hope that the people of Florida will wake up and do what is right come November so that both of them will be job hunting again and no one will hire them. Wouldn’t put them on as dog catcher because I have too much respect for animals.

        • Dusty Relic

          This is why Florida needs to pass the amendment. The bill as proposed may not be the bill that is eventually enacted and once enacted it will be subject to revision at the legislature’s whim. Amendments are harder to mess with.

          • fjpor

            And with that I agree. The amendment is clean. When each side has at it and picks and pokes the bills what would be in the final version would probably so watered down as to be that you would have to be within hours of death and curled up in fetal position, howling in excruciating pain, unable to breathe, etc, etc, etc. – I don’t trust any of them to leave it as is and NOT cut it to pieces. Amendment and please, lets get everyone we know to get registered and VOTE!!!

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