Florida House to Vote on Ultra-Restrictive Bill Activists Dubbed “The Mel Sembler...

Florida House to Vote on Ultra-Restrictive Bill Activists Dubbed “The Mel Sembler Medical Marijuana Act”

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The passage of Amendment 2 was a widely celebrated victory in Florida last November – but now we are months into lawmakers debating over how the new law should be implemented and probably the worst version is the one that has started making it’s way through House committee meetings. House Bill 1397 builds on the current medical marijuana regulations in the state and bans things like edibles, smoking and vaping – all of which were expected to be options under Amendment 2. If this bill were to pass, edibles and smoking would be off the table entirely – and vaping would only be allowed for the terminally ill.

“We need to open this market up,” Deckerhoff said. “We cannot have patients running out of medications. Period. End of story. A seizure can kill my child. A seizure can kill anyone if they have one.”

One of the first big issues with HB1397 is the fact that it builds off the current system for growing, processing and dispensing medical cannabis. It would keep the current 7 licensed nurseries in charge of all aspects as they are now, only allowing additional licenses after 150,000 patients have registered with the state. After that, it would increase again after 200,000 and from there 3 nurseries could be added for every 100,000 registered patients.

Unfortunately that still leaves a monopoly on the industry, allowing these companies little competition and the ability to set their prices as they see fit. It also means that 7 processors, which were meant to only serve a very small patient base, are expected to keep up with the demand until the patient base is considerably larger – and they’re already having a hard time keeping up with the demand as it is, according to some patients who have already run into a shortage of medicine even before new patients have registered under Amendment 2.

“[DFAF executive director] Calvina Fay showed up today to express her support for the bill and thank the sponsor for including so many of her suggestions,” Pollara said. “It is more than a little mind boggling that one of the most prominent opponents of the Amendment’s passage would have such an outsized role in its implementation.”

Other issues under this bill include the fact that they would keep the current restriction that requires a patient be under the care of a registered physician for a minimum of 90 days before they are eligible for a recommendation for medical marijuana – and then they must re-register every 90 days (when they are only allowed to keep a 90 day supply of medical cannabis on hand). This is unless they are somehow “cured” of their chronic and debilitating ailment and no longer need treatment.

Everything about this bill – and others which even potentially give the Drug Free America Foundation $500,000 to “educate” Floridians on medical marijuana – is an attempt to control what voters passed. They use the excuse that they are trying to make it “safe”, or that they are working to ensure the least issue with possible federal involvement (no matter how unlikely that may be) to make people feel that these bills are the right thing for patients when really they are trying to restrict patient access to a medicine that a huge majority of Floridians want access to.

This bill still has two committee hearings before reaching the House floor for a full vote, and from there it goes over to the Senate for review. Some lawmakers keep insisting that the bill will look different by the time it makes it through all these hearings – but unless some drastic changes are made, it simply isn’t going to be good enough.

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