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More smokable marijuana on its way to South Florida

Many of Florida’s marijuana dispensaries were not ready when Gov. Ron DeSantis made smokable medical marijuana legal in March. They were busy making oils, capsules, vape cartridges and other cannabis products.

In recent months, dispensaries have been struggling to provide enough smokable whole flower, which is the entire marijuana bud, to meet patients’ demands. Some patients prefer smoking flower to other cannabis products because it provides quick delivery into the blood stream for pain relief, medical experts say.

But in recent months, Florida’s dispensaries have jump-started cultivation of whole flower to make more available. Some dispensaries say that as early as December, they will have a larger supply to sell.

“Demand for flower has been extraordinary,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers told Wall Street analysts on a recent conference call.

Some of South Florida’s dispensaries, including GrowHealthy, have had trouble keeping their stores supplied. “We have smokable flower on a Monday and by Wednesday that product is out of stock," said Jeff Finnerty, senior director of marketing and sales for GrowHealthy. "We get it on Friday and then we have it to about Sunday morning.”

Dr. Barry Gordon, owner of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic in Venice, Fla., said patients are turning to smoking cannabis because it the most reliable way to ease their pain.

Gordon, known best for recommending cannabis to Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner to keep his cancer in remission, said inhaling is the safest means because many patients know what to expect in the high from a small pipe or a pre-rolled joint. They also know it will take only five to 10 minutes to get the pain relief they need.

Dave Clemmons, 54, of Boca Raton, was checking out the products at GrowHealthy’s dispensary in Deerfield Beach, which opened Wednesday. He said his first choice is to smoke flower because “you can see it and smell it." Clemmons, who uses medical marijuana to help with anxiety, said he prefers inhaling marijuana with a bong.

His experience with South Florida dispensaries selling flower is that every once in awhile “nobody has it. Then they’re back with 10 strains," or varieties.

Meanwhile, demand for medical marijuana has been growing.

In 2019, the number of active, qualified patients increased to 287,000 in mid-November from 169,000 in early January. To smoke legal marijuana in Florida, a qualified physician has to determine whether it is an appropriate method for a patient and can be added to their state medical marijuana card.

Florida dispensaries, which can grow marijuana only inside the state, have been scrambling to add space to cultivate whole flower. Dispensaries are adding indoor spaces lit by lamps, which can result in higher quality, more consistent flower. Cannabis plants take about four months to generate from a clone or rooted cutting to packaging for a dispensary, experts say.

GrowHealthy, a dispensary that cultivates cannabis in Lake Wales, has been busy since summer converting several buildings into indoor grow-houses, labs and other operations to expand whole flower production.

“We expect in December to have almost three times amount of flower,” Finnerty said. He said whole flower has made up a quarter of GrowHealthy’s sales since May. With new inventory coming online, Finnerty said he expects whole flower to soon make up 50 percent of GrowHealthy’s business.

Rivers, of Trulieve, told Wall Street analysts that whole flower makes up about 50 percent of Trulieve’s product mix, and dispensaries can’t meet consumers’ demand for it. The medical marijuana company, based in Quincy, Florida, near Tallahassee, says it already operates 1.7 million square feet of cultivation and has 120,000 square feet of growing space under construction.

California-based MedMen also said Tuesday that it was expanding its cultivation near Eustis, Fla., north of Orlando, “to keep up with the growth of its retail footprint in the state.”

Kevin Fisher, chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Parallel, the newly named company operating Surterra Wellness dispensaries, said the company has 350,000 square feet of greenhouse space and 100,000 square feet of indoor cultivation space coming online in the Tampa area in 2020.

“It was a bear of a summer down there,” Fisher said, adding that sun-grown flowers may have lower levels of THC, the chemical compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Sun Sentinel

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Should Florida legalize recreational marijuana use? | Poll

Florida now has a thriving medical marijuana industry as dispensaries are offering more whole flower instead of oils, vapes and other forms. That follows Gov. Ron DeSantis electing not to appeal a court decision that found the state legislature had screwed up in banning smokable marijuana.

Recreational marijuana use, on the other hand, remains illegal. But two constitutional amendments are currently in the signature-gathering phase in trying to get on the ballot in 2020, both of which would result in legalizing it.

One amendment would allow Floridians to grow their own pot and establishes rules and regulations toward that effect. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has challenged that amendment in court, arguing it is too long and confusing. The other would simply allow the current medical marijuana dispensaries to sell for recreational use. That simpler amendment has not been challenged or supported by Moody. Unsurprisingly, medical marijuana dispensaries are among that amendment’s strongest supporters; the industry has donated more than $2.8 million to the cause.

We want to know whether you support the idea. Should recreational marijuana use be legalized in Florida? Take our unscientific poll below as we gauge public sentiment heading toward 2020.

Sun Sentinel

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Federal Bill to Legalize Marijuana Is a Good Sign for Florida

Proponents of recreational marijuana celebrated last week when a groundbreaking federal decriminalization bill passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Kamala Harris introduced the bill this summer alongside Rep. Jerry Nadler, a fellow Democrat. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the MORE Act — described by its sponsors as the most comprehensive reform bill to date — would decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the list included in the Controlled Substances Act. The bill would also retroactively allow for federal expungement of all past and pending convictions for marijuana possession. States would then set their own policies.

But even the strongest proponents don't think the bill has any real chance of being signed into law. Skopos Labs, a company compiling data using artificial intelligence, gives the bill a 1 percent shot at passage.

Still, Florida experts say the bill's traction is adding legitimacy to a movement both here and in other states poised to pass new marijuana laws of their own. If the bill became law, it would change the landscape of legal marijuana business and, more important, would begin to undo the effects of the war on drugs for minorities, who are disproportionately arrested for related charges.

 

Miami New Times

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Florida A&M University's Medical Marijuana Education and Research Intiative Lauches Statewide Radio Show

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has a Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) and they have officially launched a radio show called MMERI Forum Radio. It is a half-hour weekly program that airs Friday and Sunday WANM Radio 90.5 FM in Norther Florida and WILD Radio 95.5 FM in West Palm Beach. The programs for the radio show will involve 8 episode series featuring in-depth interviews with legislators, physicians, law enforcment, and community activists on the topic of medical marijuana. Be sure to tune in and learn more.

https://capitalsoup.com/2019/10/04/florida-am-universitys-medical-marijuana-education-and-research-initiative-launches-statewide-radio-show/

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Top Federal Health Official Says Marijuana's Legal Status is Inhibiting Research

The U.S. Committee on Appropropriations hosted a hearing September 25th for the Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The panelists included Helene Langevin, Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), and Nora Volkow, Driector of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. During the hearing the three panels openly agreed that there is a problem with marijuana on the federal level. As a schedule 1 drug Marijuana is difficult to research because grants are restricted.Thankfully, Director Langevin's department is providing $3 million in grants to fund the studies into the benefits of cannabis compounds beside THC. The focus will be to develop and discover therapeutic alternatives to prescription opiods. The three panelists agreed that more ahs to be done by legislators for the full medicinal applications of marijuana to be understood and utilized for the benefit of patients across the country. Congresswoman Barbara Lee stated during the hearing her own anecdotal experience with her mother using a cannabis based pain-relieving lotion to treat her knee pain.

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/top-federal-health-official-says-marijuanas-legal-status-is-inhibiting-research/

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Keefe clarifies: Small-time pot, medical marijuana businesses won't be prosecution targets

Positive news Florida. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe has come out publicly state that his federal offices will not actively pursue enforcement measures for small-time transactions of illegal marijuana. Instead they will focus on large scale trafficking of marijuana involving violent felons who commit gun violence while trafficking marijuana. Similarly Keefe has stated his office will not be pursuing charges against medical marijuana businesses operating within the bounds of Florida Law. Keefe and his fellow U.S. Attorney's are doing this as an exercise of their prosecutorial discretion.

https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2019/08/20/keefe-clarifies-pot-medical-marijuana-businesses-wont-prosecution-targets-florida-us-attorney/2060034001/

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If You Use Medical Marijuana in Florida, You Can't Buy a Gun. Here's Why.

It has come to our attention that many patients who are looking to purchase a firearm, or hold special firearm licenses such as Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) Permits are deeply concerned about the possible infringement of their constitutional right to bear arms as a licensed medical marijuana patient here in the State of Florida. Unfortunately the truth is not something any of us want to hear. Medical Marijuana patients under Federal Law are prohibited from purchasing new firearms during the duration of the term of their medical marijuana card. The reason for this are in fact federal laws not Florida laws. Prospective gun owners are required to fill out an ATF Form 4478 which can be found in the article below for your review. It asks applicants if they are an "unlawful user" of illicit drugs. Since marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, under 21 U.S.C. 802 virtually any method of consuming marijuana, medical or not, classifies that individual as an 'unlawful user'.

When that section comes up in the ATF Form 4478 an answer of yes prohibits you from purchasing a firearm and maintaining ownership of a firearm. This unfortunately is the law of the land at this time as federal law supersedes state law. So to prospective patients, if you want to purchase a firearm you may want to do it before you become a patient. To prospective CCW License Holders or current CCW License Holders. We encourage you to do what we did and fill out the Concealed Weapon or Firearm License Preliminary Determination questionnaire. It contains 30 questions and when you are done it lists each question that you answered which would cause you to be denied from receiving a CCW.

To current patients who are currently owning a firearm, do not panic. Although it is not legal under federal law to own a firearm as a medical marijuana patient you will likely have nothing to worry about. In the article below an Alcohol,Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agent is interviewed about the subject and notes specifically that it ultimately comes down to enforcement. At this time the federal government is not really enforcing these laws. The ATF at this time appears to be primarily concerned with violent use of firearms. Please be aware that this may change in the future and you should comply with the law for the sake of maintaining your access to your medicine to treat your ailment until you are better or cured. Additionally, this goes without saying but continue to be responsible with your firearms.

We at Florida For Care will continue to fight on behalf of medical marijuana patients and we have heard your concerns on this issue. We will be taking action during the next legislative sessions to attempt to address these issues with the Florida Legislature. If you have suggestions on this matter we strongly encourage you to share them with us at info@floridaforcare.org. We are in this together Florida, we are a team, and together we will do what is right for patients deserving all options for their medical care.

Finally, if you are a concerned patient please please please call your legislators in the Federal House of Representatives and the Federal Senate Seats to make sure they press this issue in their next legislative session. Links to find your Congresspersons and Senators have been provided below.

https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2019/08/13/if-you-use-medical-marijuana-in-florida-you-cant-buy-a-gun-heres-why

https://licensing.freshfromflorida.com//firearms/prequal_questions.aspx

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/contact_rick

*** Update ***

It has come to our attention from some patients and supporters whether or not there is any reason to worry that Florida law enforcement officials will actively enforce the aforementioned federal laws referred to in this blog post. The Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried has made her stance on this issue very clear in the article below. Under her watch there will be no directive by the Florida Department of Agriculture to seize firearms from medical marijuana patients acting lawfully in the state. For those of you that do not know since the name of the agency is deceiving, The Florida Department of Agriculture is the agency that handles matters related to firearm access in the State of Florida,i permits and licenses for firearm use. If you have further concerns please feel free to email us or contact the Florida Department of Agriculture as shown below.

https://thefirearmfirm.com/medical-marijuana-card-and-concealed-weapons-license-cwfl/?fbclid=IwAR23dV3QtyjblJC0Ik3T3pty9rLVF0ILx-sHQYPTNShCALVN6TeV6_H2uKs

https://www.freshfromflorida.com/#Energy or 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352)

Disclaimer: Please understand. This is not legal advice or legal guidance in any shape, way, or form on how to purchase a firearm as a Medical Marijuana Patient in any state, county, or municipality and it is not our intent under any circumstance with this blog post to provide legal advice or guidance. This blog post is solely intended to provide information to those with questions on this subject and to address the concerns of patients and supporters who have been emailing us. Thank you.

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Miami Area Hospital Diagnoses Medical Marijuana Patient With Drug Abuse

A patient using Medical Marijuana to treat his epilepsy was diagnosed with Cannabis abuse disorder following a visit to the hospital. Mr. Morell was forced to visit the hospital after having an epileptic seizure. After a through questioning by his physician regarding his condition to determine what might have been the trigger, Mr. Morrel disclosed that he had been using medical marijuana to treat his Epilepsy. The physician who asked these questions to Mr. Morell then proceeded to arrange a consult with another physician to see to Mr. Morell's treatment for drug abuse and treatment. We at Florida For Care will continue to advocate for greater physician education on the subject of Medical Marijuana. It is a shame and disgrace that a licensed medical marijuana patient could be perceived as a drug abuser by a physician, especially after the physician who recommended him for Medical Marijuana was his Neurologist.

https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/baptist-health-diagnoses-miami-medical-marijuana-patient-with-drug-abuse-11235927

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Letter From A Supporter - Marco Island

Coastal Breeze News

Susan Leslie

https://www.coastalbreezenews.com/articles/medical-marijuana-dispensary/

 

Many thanks to the Marco Island (MI) councilors who voted in favor of a Medical Marijuana Dispensary on Marco Island. Their support allows any and all of us to have a “choice” of treatment for life threatening and unseen illnesses which are experienced by many, readily available in our neighborhood.

Having a “mature” population, the residents of MI should be able to secure the medications they need without having to travel 15 or more miles or rely on delivery of the medications.

There is no stigma associated with going to a pharmacy for a prescription or purchasing alcohol. There should not be a stigma associated with the use of medical marijuana, especially when legally prescribed and legally sold. I would like to have a choice between medications that have no side effects and are not addictive versus those that have many side effects and can be addictive.

The State of Florida and Collier County have legalized the sale of medical marijuana. Our City Council, specifically Jared Grifoni, Victor Rios, Sam Young, Charlette Roman and Larry Honig, has now given their stamp of approval. I thank all of you for your support.

 

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Marco

Marco Island City Council greenlights medical marijuana dispensaries

The Marco Island City Council voted Monday in favor of a resolution that provides regulations for medical marijuana dispensing facilities on the island.

The resolution passed 5-2, despite the nay votes of Chairperson Erik Brechnitz and councilor Howard Reed.

The approved resolution reaffirms medical marijuana dispensing facilities are allowed within Marco Island subject to the same regulations as pharmacies and restrictions provided in the Florida Statutes.

On June 3, the City Council voted in favor of a motion to instruct the city attorney to draft the resolution. That motion passed 5-2 with the opposition of Brechnitz and Reed.

Michelle Sullivan, a Marco Island resident, said from her wheelchair that medical marijuana dispensaries close to home is a critical need for people like her. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and Chohn's disease, among other painful illnesses. 

"I think [...] people don't understand [...] this is to make people like me not to be in so much pain," Sullivan said. Sullivan, at times, had to momentarily stop talking because of her physical pain.

Sullivan was the first speaker of the medical marijuana agenda item. It had been almost two hours since the City Council meeting had started when she was allowed to tell her story.

Robert Popoff, a former Marco Island city councilor, said Tuesday in a phone call he appreciated City Council for trying to move the marijuana item earlier in the agenda but said more could have been done to accommodate patients like Sullivan.

"Having previously been a chairman of that council, they could have made special arrangements for these people," Popoff said.

Kerry (Grganto) Wallace, a Marco Island resident, said she needs a medical marijuana treatment center close to home and that her current medical illnesses may be the result of the side effects of conventional medicines.

"If I (have) had access to medical marijuana before I took that prescription, I would not be attached to a machine that feeds me through my stomach right now," Wallace said while connected to a machine that feeds her liquids.

Doctor James J. Faremouth, a physician and Marco Island resident, said opioids kill people and are not suitable for long-term pain management.

"I have come to realize that treating patients with compassionate medical marijuana treatment centers readily available to them would be the most beneficial," Faremouth said.

Marco Islanders who spoke against having medical marijuana dispensaries in the island said they were concerned about an increase in car accidents, local traffic and that the dispensaries would not be economically viable.

The legalization of recreational marijuana, not medical marijuana, has been tied to an increase in car accidents, according to two studies. Allegations that medical marijuana treatment centers would considerably worsen local traffic or that they would not be economically viable remain to be proven.

Councilor Sam Young, after listening to Marco Islanders, made an important and personal announcement.

"I got my card last week," Young said followed by applause from the crowd. Young was referring to the Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card patients and caregivers must acquire before legally possessing medical marijuana in the state of Florida.

Young said he wants to rely less on opioids to manage his back pain.

As for Sullivan, she will continue to rely on the medical marijuana dispensaries of Bonita Springs, a town 45-minutes away from her home, until the first treatment center establishes in Marco Island.

How Floridians can legally acquire medical marijuana

  1. A qualified physician diagnoses a patient with a qualifying medical condition.If the patient is younger than 18 or terminal, a second physician must concur.
  2. The physician enters the patient's information and order into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. Caregivers must also be added to the registry.
  3. The patient and any caregivers must then apply for a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card.
  4. Qualified patients may fill the physician's order at any Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).

Source: Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), Know the Facts.

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Florida for Care was founded in 2014 to advocate for the implementation of a strong, well-regulated, Florida medical marijuana system under Amendment 2.

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