With the recent repeal of the medical marijuana smoking ban in Florida, one could be forgiven for thinking that patients in the state can finally start looking forward instead of fighting unnecessary battles caused by the legislature.
But as many of you know, I tend to be a naturally cynical person, and since I’m not on the ground in Florida to see how things are going, I figured it would be a good idea to contact someone who is; someone who has been in the trenches in the state battling on multiple fronts. I wanted to find out if the impression I was getting as an outsider looking in was accurate.
“The past 2 years have been extraordinarily frustrating, and not merely because of the ban on smoking medical marijuana,” Karen Seeb Goldstein, Executive Director of NORML of Florida and Vice-Chair of Regulate Florida, told The Marijuana Times. “The legislature made up their own rules regarding the implementation of Amendment 2. From the smoking ban to the vertical system to the prohibition on patients growing their own medicine, the legislature has done everything that they could to prevent patients from obtaining the best medicine to be consumed in the best manner for their particular conditions.”
The new Florida Governor did push for and sign the repeal of the ban on smoking medical cannabis in the state, “but not without putting obstacles in the path of patients,” Karen said.
“The arbitrary limit of 2 1/2 ounces for every 35 days should be adequate for most patients, but there are those for who that amount will be insufficient,” she told us.
“People with extreme cases of neuropathy with pain, painful arthritis, seizure disorders and other physical ailments such as those may require more medication. Patients with PTSD for whom the whole flower experience brings a sense of tranquility may require a greater quantity. True, there is a mechanism for an increased amount, but putting that burden upon a physician – who is already having to jump through hoops in order to be able to recommend cannabis to patients – is another unfair and unnecessary roadblock.”
And, according to Karen, some more strings came with the smoking ban repeal. “Additionally, a physician recommending smokable cannabis must submit ‘research documenting the effectiveness of smoking as a route of administration to treat similarly situated patients with the same qualifying condition as the qualified patient,’” she told us.
“This is yet another hoop that the physician must jump through. What other medications require these capricious steps be taken to satisfy the needs of patients?”
That’s a good question. In fact, why is all of this so difficult in the first place? Why is allowing people to choose their own medicine such a massive undertaking? Why does it takes years to create and implement medical marijuana regulations in state after state (with Oklahoma being the glaring exception)?
Even with some polls showing 80-90% favorability ratings for medical cannabis, most lawmakers still see it as a dangerous substance that must be tightly restricted and controlled. They just can’t leave it up to adults and their doctors; lawmakers and bureaucrats must have copious amounts of input and control.
Sadly, a lot of Florida patients still face a long road to actual access to their medicine of choice, much like citizens in many other states.