Florida Patients Fight for Easy Access to Medical Marijuana
Three months after Floridians overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, the Office of Compassionate Use and the cannabis patients of Florida faced off over proposed rules that would spell out who could get medical cannabis.
The Health Department's Office of Compassionate Use, the organization which regulates medical marijuana in the state, has recommended restrictions on what type of patients qualify for medical marijuana and where it can be dispensed. But the patients have spoken. Nearly 1,300 Florida residents attended what are normally low-key bureaucratic hearings to press for a less restrictive system to access marijuana.
“Patients, doctors, caregivers and activists all had a unified message which is rare,” said Ben Pollara, who is the campaign manager for United for Care. “They want impediments removed and a free market place.”
The hearings took place in 5 of the most major cities in Florida (Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee). Among some of the other concerns voiced at these hearings was the high prices and limited availability so far of cannabis products from the 5 of the so far 7 licensed cannabis dispensing organizations in the State. Also to put an end to the 90 day patient/doctor relationship that must be established before the doctor can actually recommend cannabis, and to ensure that the doctor would be able to deem what is a debilitating medical condition and not the Florida Board of Medicine.
Amendment 2 is set to expand the current and highly restrictive High-CBD medical marijuana system already put in place in Florida. The patients are just concerned on how it will be expanded. Florida has an opportunity here to become the 2nd largest medical marijuana market in the US and to help ease the suffering of approximately 600,000 potential cannabis patients at the same time.
This is one of the points that the Florida Cannabis Coalition made to the Office of Compassionate Use during these hearings. That is this is one of the rare times that an open and free market would benefit the patients at the same time. The open competition would help drive down the prices of the medication and would also help to produce the 66,000 pounds of cannabis a month that would be needed to treat the 600,000 potential cannabis patients.
View Tom Quigley's, the founder of the Florida Cannabis Coalition, and Carlos Hermida's, the Vice President of the Florida Cannabis Coaltion, testimonials to the Office of Compassionate Use here: