DAILY COMMERCIAL: Marijuana as medicine
The state of Florida has made a mess out of its initial foray into medical marijuana, giving voters another reason to take the issue into their own hands.
State lawmakers last year legalized the use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. The marijuana is administered as an oil or vapor, and has shown promise in treating conditions such as epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and cancer.
But subsequent state health department rules for implementing the law have faced legal challenges and delays, leaving patients in limbo. In the meantime, municipalities such as the city of Alachua have passed misguided bans on medical marijuana dispensaries.
People with serious medical conditions shouldn’t be denied treatment due to the political views of state or local officials. Florida voters nearly passed an amendment that would have more broadly legalized medical marijuana last fall, and now have more cause to support another proposed initiative.
The News Service of Florida reported last week that supporters of the proposed amendment submitted 100,000 petitions, one of the first steps to putting it before voters next November.
Last year’s version received 58 percent of the vote, just short of the 60 percent required for passage. The new version has been improved to address issues raised by law enforcement officials and others who campaigned against it.
“What this will do is to clarify things that will make it really impossible to misinterpret,” Jon Mills, a University of Florida law professor and former House Speaker who drafted the amendment and revision, told the News Service.
The new language clarifies that doctors cannot order medical marijuana for children without their parents’ approval — something that already would have been prevented by state law, but was used by opponents last year to scare voters.
The revised measure also makes clear that marijuana could only be used for debilitating conditions such as cancer, AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.
Medical marijuana provides another option for treating chronic pain, nausea and other conditions that stem from those diseases.
The legalization of Charlotte’s Web was a good step, but lawmakers added unnecessary complications. They include a requirement that only Florida nursery owners in continuous operation for 30 years would be allowed to grow it.
Two Alachua County nurseries, San Felasco/Grandiflora and Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, are among the six nurseries vying to receive the only license that will be granted in our region.
As The Sun reported last week, Alachua County and the city of Gainesville are determining areas where Charlotte’s Web can be grown or dispensed. The Alachua City Commission, on the other hand, has a six-month moratorium on dispensaries that it recently renewed.
Alachua commissioners did, however, leave open the possibility of rescinding the moratorium before six months are up. Robert Wallace with Chestnut Hill has told the commission that research on Charlotte’s Web might even be done at Progress Park in Alachua.
State and local officials should be working to ensure that people with serious medical conditions have access to the treatment they need. If they don’t, they shouldn’t cry foul when voters do their job for them.
From Halifax News Service.
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