Florida lawmakers seem to be doing everything in their power to ensure that Floridians are never able to get their hands on medical marijuana.
Earlier this week, the state’s House of Representatives approved what pot advocates are calling a “fatally flawed” measure intended to get the state’s newfound legal cannabis industry off the ground.
The problem with this legislation, which was approved in a vote of 105-to-9, is that it forces doctors to go against the grain of federal law by “prescribing” medical marijuana rather than offering recommendations.
Because marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, doctors can catch serious heat by “prescribing” anything derived from the cannabis plant. However, they are fully free to make medical marijuana recommendations under the protection of the First Amendment.
"So now, doctors who care about keeping their licenses won't prescribe marijuana," Ben Pollara, policy director for United for Care, the organization responsible for bring the medical marijuana issue to the voters, told the Miami New Times. "Instead, only the scummiest pill-mill docs will."
The bill (HB 1397) also restricts the program to only patients suffering from a “debilitating disease,” such as AIDS and cancer. It also bans the consumption of smokeable marijuana. Therefore, anyone who manages to get a “prescription” for medical marijuana will be forced to purchase expensive edible products rather than cannabis in plant form. In some states, similar policies are costing patients upwards of thousands of dollars a month.
There is some hope that the bill will see some revisions once it reaches the Senate. Pollara says the upper chamber has been more reasonable about crafting the medical marijuana rules than the House. If revisions are made, the bill will then be sent back to the lower chamber for concurrence.
However, time is a major issue, at this juncture. The State Legislature only has three days left before the session comes to a screeching halt. If the bill fails to pass in that time, further delays are expected.