Medical Marijuana: Florida For Care Forms Blue Ribbon Commission For Amendment 2

By Chris Joseph - With the vote on medical marijuana a mere four months away, a group chaired by both those who advocate and those who are opposed to medical weed has formed a Blue Ribbon Commission to provide research, expert opinions, and feedback on a wide range of medical marijuana issues.

Florida For Care says its purpose is to help formulate a medical marijuana "Gold Standard" for the state by holding several meetings between now and November throughout Florida to not only educate people, but to serve as a resource for state legislators as they seek to develop and support medical marijuana policies.

At a time when both sides are getting big money backers, Florida For Care says it's all about making sure things are properly regulated. That's why members for both sides if the issue are heavily involved.

The group is chaired by former Speaker and Amendment 2 author John Mills, who backs medical marijuana legalization, and vice chaired by state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who opposes Amendment 2.

"We want to make sure the Blue Ribbon Committee sets up regulatory standards should Amendment 2 pass," Florida For Care Executive Director Dan Rogers tells New Times. "We're doing this by implementing three guiding principles: Ensuring patient access, having a robust regulatory system, and the promotion of a free commercial enterprise."

According to the group, the Blue Ribbon Commission is composed of legal and health experts, patient advocates, business leaders and government reps that will provide research and feedback and info on all things medical weed.

The bottom line for the commission is to get a detailed plan to make medical marijuana available for Floridians who need it should the amendment pass.

Rogers says the hope is to be the standard for all the other states in the U.S.

"We want the rest of the nation to look to Florida as the gold standard," he says.

For those who oppose the amendment, like Di az de la Portilla, the commission is about making sure the industry is properly regulated and running smoothly. If the amendment passes, Diaz de la Portilla wants to make sure it's implemented properly.

The commission plans to hold at least four open meetings across the state to discuss a regulatory standards template that they can eventually introduce to the public

Rogers says a first draft of that template probably won't be available until September.

Florida For Care is also looking to lead the way in helping law makers develop medical marijuana policies based on recommendations from the commission should the amendment pass.

And it would appear that the majority of Floridians are in favor of getting it passed.

In March, a University of North Florida poll said 74 percent of Floridians support and will vote "yes" for Amendment 2.

And in May, Quinnipiac University released a poll that found 88 percent of Florida voters support the amendment. All of this coming on the heels of Charlotte's Web, a low-THC strain of medical cannabis that helps children with epilepsy, passing the Florida Senate.

"We just want to make sure that a well-regulated medical marijuana system will be in place should the people pass the amendment," Rogers says.

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