Medical marijuana may be legal, but patients are still limited in Florida

Discussion in 'Florida (FL)' started by VakarianZ, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. VakarianZ

    VakarianZ Administrator

    Medical marijuana may be legal, but patients are still limited in Florida
    As legislators consider yanking funding in this year’s budget amid Department of Health delays on medical marijuana regulations, the parents who lobbied for legalization say the reality has fallen short of what they hoped for when the drug was broadly legalized for medical use.

    When Seth Hyman first began to buy medical marijuana in Florida for his 12-year-old daughter last year, he hoped it would be the answer to fixing her life-threatening seizures.

    A genetic disorder means Rebecca, who cannot walk or speak, had about a hundred seizures daily, from a few seconds to a few minutes long. But the Weston father, who began lobbying the legislature in 2014 when it passed an initial bill legalizing a limited form of medical marijuana, said the family faced hurdles even after Rebecca was approved to obtain the drug.

    A limited number of growers has meant fewer varieties they can test to try managing Rebecca's condition, and she still has around 50 seizures a day, Hyman said. Even the varieties that are available are in low supply.

    "With the current system, you're very limited to the strains of product that are available," said Hyman, who has been hired by a law firm specializing in medical marijuana cases. "Some patients can't even get their medicine."

    Months after the legislature passed a law enacting a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana, patients say they are hampered by delayed regulations yet to be implemented by state health officials. The Department of Health's Office of Medical Marijuana Use, which is devising and implementing rules to implement the law, has blamed administrative challenges and lawsuits for the delays.

    In recent weeks, lawmakers have become especially dissatisfied with those explanations. After a series of deadlines were missed and letters objecting to some rules went unanswered for months, lead legislators have called the office's behavior disrespectful and are discussing yanking funds from the department as they assemble the state's budget in the next four weeks.

    But particularly frustrated are the patients' parents, who lobbied the legislature for years to legalize medical marijuana in the first place.

    "I'm certainly happy to see the legislature really, truly apply some pressure," said political consultant Ben Pollara, who led the group behind the 2016 constitutional amendment. "Patients would like it, too. What they would like more is for [the department] to apply the law."

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