The Florida Senate approved a Medical Marijuana expansion bill for the terminally ill during the last years of their lives. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the Medical Marijuana bill was passed in spite of numerous concerns the bill was not only too limiting in who it could help, but was also setting up a “state sanctioned drug cartel.”
Senator Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, admitted the law was not perfect, but added what should be focused on was easing the pain of the terminally ill, and the bill could be improved upon in the future.
“I don’t like all of it, but this is better than doing nothing,” said Montford.
“This bill ends the delay,” Senator Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, told the Senate referring to the 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannibas Act. The Act had allowed for five companies to produce a low THC potency strain called “Charlotte’s Web,” but had been tied up in bureaucratic procedures.
“It delivers on the promise we made to those families two years ago,” Senator Bradley added.
Although this seems like a leap forward in getting patients the medicinal marijuana they were promised two years ago, the bill is met with plenty of criticism. Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care, which pushes for a “sensible Medical Marijuana policy,” believes it isn’t enough, and approving Amendment 2 in the November election is what is needed to truly make a difference. Amendment 2 would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for an array of medical conditions and not be restricted to the terminally ill.
“Today the Senate agonized over, before finally passing, SB 460, which supposedly expands the number of eligible medical marijuana patients in Florida. Unfortunately, because of the persistent ineptitude of the state legislature, there are presently zero eligible medical marijuana patients in the state,” said Pollara.
“The bill’s passage today is merely more lipstick on the pig that is Tallahassee’s failed ‘medical marijuana’ law. Sick and suffering Floridians will only see relief by approving Amendment 2 in the November election.”
Senator Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, is hopeful Amendment 2 will pass in November and encouraged others to not let the dissatisfaction with the current bill’s limitations outweigh the potential for helping those who are currently suffering.
“We need to get the medicine to the people who need it,” said Abruzzo. “I’m going to take the good over the bad.”
Not only is the bill being criticized for keeping medical marijuana out of the hands of many that need it, there are also concerns that only five companies are currently approved for medical marijuana production.
“Does this set up a state-sanctioned drug cartel, which is what this is?” asked Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. “Yes, it does. You’re basically mandating that five families get wealthy.”
According to Florida Politics, the state would need need over 250,000 patients before an additional three medical marijuana licenses would become available. Lawmakers doubted the state would have the amount of patients required for the additional licenses to become available. Amendments were proposed that would increase the amount of companies allowed to produce medical marijuana, but all the amendments were dismissed.
Medical Marijuana is becoming more and more accepted among the American people, and as awareness grows of its benefits for everything from pain reduction, to reports of controlling the growth of cancer and reducing seizures, so does the demand for this powerful plant. Compared to many other drugs on the market, the side effects are minimal.
Although the Florida Medical Marijuana bill is far from perfect, it is still a step forward in helping many who are suffering.
[Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images]