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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
*** 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://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.
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.
Fresh From Florida, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Pembroke Pines, Fla. — Today, Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried joined key Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials to host the first public hemp rulemaking workshop at Broward College in Pembroke Pines.
"The upcoming state hemp program marks a new industrial revolution — after eighty years of stalled progress, we can finally put hemp to work for farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers here in Florida," said Commissioner Nikki Fried."Our Department is working swiftly to ensure the program's rules will be inclusive for everyone who wants to be involved with Florida hemp. Today's public participation, questions, and feedback are a critical part of making Florida a national leader in hemp."
Shawn Mulcahy, WFSU Public Media
The Florida Agriculture Department has released its first draft of proposed rules for a state hemp program. This comes ahead of hemp rulemaking workshops beginning later this week.
The draft lays out testing and purity standards for growers and packaging and labeling requirements for food containing hemp or its extract, CBD. Hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, the high-inducing ingredient found in marijuana.
While some members expressed concern about patients smoking medical marijuana, the Florida Board of Medicine has approved forms for doctors to use in ordering smokable pot.
The board Friday agreed to change its medical-marijuana rules so that physicians can certify that the benefits of smoking marijuana for medical use outweigh the risks. It also agreed to change mandatory informed-consent forms that physicians and patients must fill out together.
By Jim Rosica
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has released the names on her newly created Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, which will “help improve the state’s medical marijuana policies,” she said in a statement.
“I’m proud to establish the advisory committee to help expand patient access and to advance and modernize policies to move Florida into the future of medical marijuana,” Fried said. Some names had leaked out recently on social media.
Her new Cannabis Director, Holly Bell, will be in charge of overseeing the committee’s work.
“This is a plant that not only improves people’s quality of life, it’s an alternative to sometimes-dangerous pharmaceuticals and addictive opioids,” said Fried, a former medical marijuana lobbyist. “It’s a medicine that an overwhelming majority of Floridians came together for, calling for constitutionally guaranteed access.”
The new 18-member committee “will convene telephonically and in-person bimonthly to work through ways to expand patient access, increase innovation and technology in the industry, and make recommendations to the Legislature and the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use to improve Florida’s medical marijuana policies and programs,” the commissioner added.