As if Florida medical marijuana supporters didn’t have to work hard enough to get medical cannabis in the hands of the patients who need it, lawmakers have begun a fresh battle against legalization.
On Tuesday, Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues revealed the first official regulations on medical cannabis since voters overwhelming passed Amendment 2 in November of last year – unfortunately the new rules stand to set the MMJ movement back significantly.
Not only do the new regulations ban all forms of smokeable and edible cannabis, as well as making possession a crime, but the new laws are actually more restrictive than those in place before voters approved legalization.
It took Florida's United for Care two election cycles (2014 and 2016) to draft, redraft and campaign to amend Florida’s constitution, which it did, by a whopping 72 percent voter approval. The next step was for the Florida Legislature to craft rules pertaining to the use of cannabis in all its forms for patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
However, what Florida’s elected officials came up with and presented to the public yesterday are a step in the wrong direction, according to United for Care Campaign Director Ben Pollara.
In addition to the ban on smoking cannabis and edibles, the new rules restrict patients to a 90-day supply, and require a slew of caregiver background checks and training, as well as “educational campaigns” on topics including impaired driving, and the short and long-term effects of marijuana use on minors.
"It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana," Pollara told the Miami New Times, adding that although he's disappointed, the bill can be amended. “The question we’ve been asking all day is, how can you ingest it?”