New Medical Marijuana Rules Criticized

Jan 18, 2017

Authors of Florida's voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana are blasting proposed rules to regulate the cannabis industry.

The proposed rules, released Tuesday by state health officials, would essentially maintain current vendors' stranglehold on the medical marijuana industry — poised to become one of the nation's top money-makers — by applying current Florida laws and rules to the constitutional amendment approved in November.

"The rule is basically ignoring the text of the constitutional amendment at almost every point of the way," Ben Pollara, campaign manager of the political committee backing the amendment, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

While medical marijuana was already a legal treatment for terminally ill patients in Florida, Amendment 2 authorized marijuana for a much broader swath of patients. More than 70 percent of voters supported the amendment, after a similar proposal narrowly failed to capture the requisite 60 percent approval two years earlier.

But applying current regulations to Amendment 2 — which includes specific requirements for how the amendment should be implemented — is wrong, Pollara insisted.

Of special concern to the amendment's authors, the proposed rule would give authority to the Florida Board of Medicine — and not individual doctors --- to decide which patients qualify for the marijuana treatment.

The amendment allows doctors to order medical marijuana as a treatment for patients with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

The ballot language gives doctors the power to order marijuana for "other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient."

In contrast, the proposed rule would limit the unspecified conditions to those "determined by the Florida Board of Medicine," something Pollara called the regulation's "single most problematic" component.

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