PRESS RELEASE: Statement from Ben Pollara on HB 1397

Thursday, March 7, 2017
Contact: Vanessa Satterfield

Statement from Ben Pollara, Executive Director of Florida for Care, on HB 1397:

"I believe Leader Rodrigues was sincere and thoughtful in his approach and authorship of this law, but I can't help but be dismayed by the House proposal. The bill begins by moving backwards in many ways critical to the letter and spirit of the constitution, and in some cases, the existing low-THC Cannabis statute.

In addition to banning smokable and edible marijuana products, HB 1397 bans the vaporization of marijuana oils, except for terminal patients. That is a further restriction than what even the current law allows.

HB 1397 also offers only a modest expansion of the marketplace for medical marijuana treatment centers and again takes a step backwards in doing so. Forget about government not being in the business of picking winners and losers, HB 1397 literally picks losers in the issuance of the first tranche of new licenses proposed in the legislation. The bill calls for the first five licenses issued to be awarded to applicants who previously applied for, but failed to win, a license under the current law.

Today is the start of session and I hope this bill is the start of a meaningful debate in the House over the merits of this approach and that as the bill moves through the process, it applies more free market principals."


Showing 24 reactions

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  • Perry Hammer
    commented 2017-05-02 17:34:10 -0400
    This state is backwards they both came and made it legal for all these doctors to write all these medications for opioids and volume and Percocet but they want to make it hard on marijuana and it’s very contraire that you going to make CBD legal but not marijuana and it’s the same plant there is no different none the only way they separate it is still way like you separate blood from plasma you can’t grow marijuana any other way then if they try to tell you that they do it’s a lie I’m 55 years old and been around marijuana all my life and I’ve used marijuana since I was 11 years old all because they wanted to put me on Valium because of my nerves and losing my father at that young age they need to go on and pass the Bill and quit trying to pull sheep’s wool over our eyes because they’re lying and they’re not trying to help no patience at all
  • Annie Skerchek
    commented 2017-05-02 16:22:41 -0400
    While other states are welcoming the cannabis industry with open arms, Florida legislators still have reefer madness syndrome.

    They aren’t listening to the 71%ers.

    They don’t want to make money for schools, infrastructure, healthcare, etc.

    They aren’t seeing how the marijuana industry creates good paying jobs.

    They don’t see how opioid use has gone down in states that have legalized medical marijuana in ALL forms.

    They don’t care about our American soldiers who need actual weed for to combat PTSD.

    They don’t care that children are suffering with seizures.

    They don’t care about people with chronic pain.

    I could go on and on but one thing I know for sure is that when it comes time to #Vote again these legislators will be out of a job!
  • Burena Morris
    commented 2017-05-02 00:01:47 -0400
    Below is 3rd letter sent to Representatives Mariano and Latvala. I don’t know about anyone else, but its frustrating to continually write to voice one’s concerns only the have them fall upon deaf ears.

    Dear Representative Mariano;

    As the session comes to an end, we the 71% who voted for “full access to the cannabis plant” can only hope our representatives consider our concerns before implementing uncompassionate cannabis laws. I’ve written several times expressing my personal story which seem to fall upon deaf ears; today, I only discuss the “negative financial impact” of not offering patients full access.

    It would be a major economic mistake to not allow patients access to vape or smoke flower buds; for one, it takes a lot of cannabis flower buds to extract a small percentage of oil. Just look at New York, it’s the only state where dispensaries are struggling financially to make ends meet. A lot of inherent overhead cost; such as, electricity, water, real estate, legal fees and employees comes with starting and maintaining a dispensary. New York failed to recognize one crucial economic fact with cannabis – “flower buds fund growing activities’”! In other words, it takes nearly 3 ounces of flower buds (valued between $600-800) to fill one vape pen containing 2.5 grams of oil valued under $40 – obviously the smarter economic choice is to offer both flower and oils.

    As a patient who appreciates the privilege to “legally” use cannabis to relieve chronic pain in the comfort of my home, I will not live in a state where I am forced into “illegal actions” to seek out the black market for cannabis medications. Rest assured black market drug dealers will have cannabis flower buds and they will economically flourish; unfortunately for the state, patient numbers will grow, but dispensaries will only see minimal profits. Profits won’t come close to making the normal $10,000 daily profit other businesses experience; this is not an exaggeration, a little research on other states shows the ability to make ten grand represents a slow day in the cannabis billion-dollar industry.

    Despite the State of Florida’s decisions to support the abuse of opioids; I do not, nor will I go back to taking dangerous prescription drugs. It will sadden my heart to leave my family again should the state decide to implement uncompassionate cannabis laws for patients. Since becoming a cannabis patient five years ago, my quality of life has dramatically improved and if you haven’t taken the time to read my other letters – please do so now. “Every patient concern and personal story matters”; more importantly, residents and patients will not forget – the same uncompassionate or compassionate actions given will be returned when it’s time to vote!
  • Burena Morris
    commented 2017-04-24 21:32:50 -0400
    As a constituent and cannabis patient, I urge you to VOTE NO on SB 1397! I have written three representatives so far to voice my concerns over the unfairness this bill provides. Overall, it does not support patients rights; however, SB406 is what over 70% of residents voted for – this is the most compassionate bill for patients.

    I think its unfair to ask patients to drive to Tallahassee just to have our voices heard; we live in the information age and these types of meetings can and should be conducted via Facebook live. I have tried to attend every meeting and have had no success in finding anyone who has the time to take off from work to drive to Tallahassee. I am not sure how effective writing and commenting is – if I could physically be there I would because we the patients feel SB1397 is not compassionate at all towards patients needs.
  • Robert Dinkelacker
    commented 2017-04-24 12:49:00 -0400
    Please look up CRPS Why is it not on your list? Patients and dr’s should have written the language, not political dick heads like you!
  • Robert Dinkelacker
    commented 2017-04-24 12:47:45 -0400
    No! Absolutely No I have pain that’s worse then most cancers, but I wont die. You vote this law in, you’re signing my death sentence!
  • Brian Gruhn
    commented 2017-04-24 11:27:22 -0400
    We don’t approve! VOTE NO on HB1397!!!!!
  • greg hatfield
    commented 2017-04-21 22:19:53 -0400
    Stand up 71.% and send a letter to your state rep in Florida about your feedback on H.B.1397..I sent a few.We at 71.3% strong so fight for what you want .
  • Lon Newton
    commented 2017-04-21 18:06:54 -0400
    Vote NO on HB1397. This not what the voters wanted when medical marijuana was passed by 71% Floridians that voted. This is a watered down bill that will do nothing to address the medical needs for those needing this medicine. This bill is nothing but an obstructionist opinion based attempt to circumvent the will of the people. Vote NO on HB 1397.
  • Annie Skerchek
    commented 2017-04-19 11:33:54 -0400
    Every other state is happily pushing through laws to legalize medical marijuana. So why is it that Florida politicians are stalling, making up rules that won’t and don’t help the people who actually need this medicine. We the People of the state of Florida voted overwhelmingly for medicinal marijuana in ALL Forms. Follow the Money people! Back room deals are being made and the 71%ers are getting screwed! Not everyone can get to Tallahassee, We all need to come together and rally in front of every city hall in the state to get Florida politicians out of the reefer madness era.
  • Eileen Smith
    commented 2017-04-19 11:24:10 -0400
    Members of any and all committees who do not do the WILL OF THE PEOPLE, 71%. Should look for another type of work, that is not a job that represents their fellow Americans, and or has anything to do with public service (THE AMERICAN PEOPLE)!!
  • Perry Hammer
    commented 2017-04-19 11:16:36 -0400
    Dear Senator vote no HB 1397 totally wrong we voted it in 71% why would we let them have control over the system to to distribute medication when they are against it that’s like winning the war and then surrendering thank you very much senator D Wasserman Schultz
  • Mike Treworgy
    commented 2017-04-19 10:41:28 -0400
    This is copy of the email I sent to both my State Representatives: Please send your opinion to your representatives now!

    I recently returned from a vacation to Europe. It is hurtful that the State has not already implemented regulations for access to medical cannabis. Further, I am shocked that the Florida House of Representatives is even considering the backward movement in implementing the access to Medical Cannabis, as described in HB 1397. I know you understand that this measure passed by a 71% majority. Yet HB 1397 appears to be written by those who oppose Medical Cannabis. I’m sure you would not stand for your opposition setting your agenda if you won an election, let alone by the landslide that is 71%.

    The legislation is short sighted and simply wrong based on actual experience and research conducted all over the world. Many places have direct experience with medical cannabis and their experiences are readily available for review. You cannot find a viable problem that was created by allowing access to medical Cannabis. This legislation appears to be attempting to solve problems that simply do not exist. The State legislating specifically who can run these businesses and how many there are, is wrong.

    I urge you to vote NO on HB1397. Also, I implore you to work diligently to speed up the access to this medicine. The delays are unwarranted, other states and countries have experienced no down side by implementing access to medical marijuana and pretending Florida would is simply obstructionist. At this point it is cruel to further deny access to those who need the benefits of this medicine. "
  • Eitan Magen
    followed this page 2017-04-18 17:44:17 -0400
  • Dawn Edwards
    followed this page 2017-04-18 03:34:07 -0400
  • Robert Dinkelacker
    commented 2017-04-12 13:23:07 -0400
    I have CRPS TYPE 2 the worst pain disease known to man. it’s ranked higher on the McGill pain scale then cancer. The big difference we don’t die from it. (You can from complications) It’s not listed as a terminal disease but yet, like I said the pain is worse and never subsides! My disease has a nickname it’s called the suicide disease. So I fall through the cracks in the legality of M.M with this bill. I want to go to The Capitol and speak for us, I’ve done it in PA, back in the 90’s when they tried to ban oxycontin for a similar reason. I’ll do it again.
    All united For Care has too do is get me in there, once on the floor in front of the legislature I can talk about pain for hours, the damage done to my own body from them, and by not letting this bill pass as it should in the right way. Many Floridians will be dying from overdosing on cheap Heroin, and God knows what other kinds of street drugs!
  • mark Cohen
    commented 2017-04-10 14:54:40 -0400
    it doesn’t matter what the people voted for the government is going to do what they want & not what the people voted for thae way it’s looking like is worse than the black market!
    we see who going make out know the people who need it!
  • Perry Hammer
    commented 2017-04-04 15:12:34 -0400
    The government needs to stay out of it it needs to be run thought the states and they trying to state laws on this medicine it didn’t require none they’re making it not for the patient but for the people to make money off of it the rich who wants to invest in making grow sites the day off and can jack the prices up that’s what the holdup is they think they’re fooling somebody that I ain’t and this Governor’s in on it too
  • Burena Morris
    commented 2017-04-01 07:05:45 -0400
    This is so disheartening – I cannot take any prescription drugs; they have done so much damage to my body that it now rejects them. i WILL BE CALLING REP. RAY RODRIGUES AND SO SHOULD YOU at (239) 433-6501 to voice concerns over legislative fairness to the people. WE THE PEOPLE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS EXTREMELY UNSYMPATHETIC BILL. Have some compassion for the very people you swore to serve by doing the most good for the greatest number – bill 1397 doesn’t even come close to helping patients.
  • Annie Skerchek
    commented 2017-03-30 00:21:41 -0400
    71% of We the People of Florida voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. Any senator or representative who refuses to do what the people want should step down immediately. They have forgotten who they work for. Vote these idiots out 2018…
  • Burena Morris
    followed this page 2017-03-29 13:41:05 -0400
  • Abel Roderigues
    commented 2017-03-10 06:51:19 -0500
    This bill is insane, we have a genuine natural God given herb that can help man and treat many medical ailments and our government wants to regulate this so we have extremely little access to it. People “follow the money”.
  • greg hatfield
    commented 2017-03-07 18:04:22 -0500
    Free market…
  • Tim Smith
    commented 2017-03-07 15:15:40 -0500
    Still stuck in the 20th century…or someones pocket…



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