Medical marijuana Archives - Page 7 of 28 - Florida Politics

Medical marijuana supporters take another $34.5K in August

The committee backing a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in the Sunshine State raised $34,526 between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12, according to newly filed campaign finance reports.

“People United for Medical Marijuana” took in 61 contributions during the weeklong reporting period, with the majority coming in from individuals donating less than $100 each.

D.C.-based group “Marijuana Policy Project” was the top donor for the period with a $20,000 check Aug. 10, followed by Alachua resident Michael Singer with a $10,000 contribution.

People United also spent $27,124 during the reporting period, including a $14,264 payment to Weston-based group Impact Politics for digital media and marketing.

The totals left the committee with $94,612 on hand Aug. 12.

“People United for Medical Marijuana” has gotten the bulk of its support from Orlando attorney John Morgan, who also heavily backed the proposal when it was narrowly defeated in the 2014 election cycle.

The measure will appear as Amendment 2 on November ballots and, if approved, would allow patients with chronic conditions such as cancer or AIDS to be prescribed marijuana for treatment and pain management.

Matt Gaetz goes out for pot

Matt Gaetz will “host a medical marijuana delivery to a Northwest Florida family,” his legislative office announced Tuesday.

And the Fort Walton Beach Republican invited reporters to join him as he tags along for the ride.

Surterra Therapeutics will deliver the first shipment of medicinal pot Thursday morning to an as-yet-undisclosed location in the Panhandle.

Gaetz, a candidate for the 1st Congressional District, championed medical cannabis in the House.

He joined the bipartisan effort to allow low-THC cannabis for children who suffer from debilitating seizures and other diseases.

Gaetz co-sponsored the 2014 Compassionate Use Act with Democratic state Rep. Katie Edwards.

That legislation became the framework for the marijuana growing and delivery system devised by the state Department of Health.


First Orlando-area cancer patient gets access to therapeutic marijuana products

Eleven months ago, Amanda Gammisch was rushed to the hospital, unconscious and having seizures, and she learned she had Grade 3 brain cancer. On Monday, she became the first Orlando patient to receive CBD Oil, a therapeutic cannabis product from Surterra Therapeutics, which will hopefully be able to fight the cancer and extend her life.

Gammisch, 36, has been a patient at the office of Dr. Joseph Rosado in Deltona, where she appeared Monday afternoon to receive the product from Surterra president Susan Driscoll. Rosado was the fifth doctor Gammisch tried to contact, with the others not wanting or not having the ability to address her case. But Rosado stuck with her and, eventually, Driscoll reached out with the opportunity to try CBD Oil.

While you wouldn’t know Gammisch has cancer from looking at her, CBD Oil will go a long way towards helping her quality of life.

“It’s what I like to call the invisible disease,” she said. “Looking at me on the street, I don’t look like I have a five-year life expectancy, but that’s what I’m up against.”

She stressed that the drug isn’t for getting high, as some people assumed — it’s strictly therapeutic, which Rosado also spoke about.

“The biggest misnomer is ‘oh, these people just want to get high or stoned,’” Rosado said. “This is medicine. This is not psychoactive. The purpose of this is to restore her health and allow her body to respond to natural treatment.”

Gammisch’s only option now is chemotherapy, which can make her sicker and ruin her appetite. Due to her successful second surgery earlier this year, her doctors want her to wait and instead spend time getting as healthy as she can through diet and exercise, to get her immune system strong enough to fight it on her own.

“The opportunity to take CBD Oil is huge for me,” she said. “This will actually cross the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from a lot of medicines we put into the body, including chemotherapy. This will be actually going into the brain and attacking the cancer cells, and maybe even alert my own immune system to fight the cancer as well.”

While there is no cure for brain cancer right now, she’s hoping the drug, at least, can lengthen her life and improve things for her right now, if it doesn’t defeat the cancer altogether.

“It works for some people,” she said. “Everyone is different, and your body responds to different medicines differently. There are 120 kinds of brain tumors.”

The laws in Florida force doctors to have a relationship with a patient for 90 days before prescribing them therapeutic cannabis drugs for diseases like brain cancer, so Gammisch said some patients might not have the time they need to reap the effects of products like CBD Oil.

“I’d like to say that when you’re a Grade 4 cancer patient, your life expectancy is 15 months or less,” she said. “A three-month waiting period is difficult to swallow when you’re looking for other treatments.”

Florida Medical Association opposes medical marijuana ballot initiative

The Florida Medical Association wants Floridians to vote no on a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

The FMA’s House of Delegates adopted a resolution Sunday to oppose Amendment 2, the medical marijuana ballot initiative. The statewide medical association opposed a similar amendment in 2014.

“The Florida Medical Association, representing more than 20,000 physicians in our state, once again passed a resolution in opposition to the so-called ‘medical’ marijuana measure,” said FMA CEO Tim Stapleton. “There is nothing medical about this proposal, and the lack of scientific evidence that pot is helpful in treating medical conditions is far from inclusive.”

The 2016 ballot initiative allows individuals with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. Among other things, the amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The amendment appears to have wide support among Floridians, with a recent survey showing 77 percent of Floridians saying they would back the amendment.

But Drug Free Florida, the group opposing the amendment, has been ramping up its opposition efforts. Since January, the committee has raised more than $1.8 million. The vast majority of that comes from two sources — the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust and prominent St. Petersburg fundraiser Mel Sembler.

The committee led the successful opposition campaign two years ago. In 2014, the medical marijuana ballot initiative received 58 percent support, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

“Thank you to the Florida Medical Association for opposing this unregulated, unlimited, and untested pot that will be distributed by non-pharmacists at locations on every street corner,” said Christina Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 campaign. “Physicians must be able to regulate the dosage level and quantity of this high-potency drug, and not leave these decisions to those with no medical training or standing.”


Surterra Therapeutics gets OK to start dispensing medical marijuana

Florida’s Department of Health has granted its second dispensing authorization for medical marijuana.

On Wednesday the agency notified Surterra Therapeutics that it has been approved for processing and dispensing low-THC cannabis.

Surterra is the dispensing partner for the Homestead-based Alpha Foliage, which was granted the license for the Southwest Florida region.

Spokeswoman Monica Russell says Surterra expects to begin in-home state delivery within a week. Its first dispensary facility will be in Tampa and is expected to open next month.

Patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms can order medical marijuana by contacting their physician, as long as both are listed in a state registry. Trulieve was granted dispensing authorization last week. It started in-home delivery and opened a dispensing facility in Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

City of Orlando puts moratorium on any more marijuana dispensaries until after November vote

The City of Orlando has decided that for right now, three medical marijuana dispensaries is enough for the Orlando area.

After Gov. Rick Scott passed the Charlotte’s Web law in 2014, which allowed medical marijuana for medical patients when no other treatment would suffice, three dispensaries ended up getting licensed to the area: one on Orange Blossom Trail, one on Orange Avenue and one on Edgewater Drive.

Now, as Florida voters will decide in November whether or not to pass Amendment 2, which will allow the legalization of medical marijuana for a wider base of medical patients, the City of Orlando saw fit to put a moratorium on any new facilities opening up until that is decided.

The reason, according to Mayor Buddy Dyer, is that the city wants to wait and find out whether or not the opening of marijuana-related land facilities has any debilitating effects on the surrounding community.

“We’ll grandfather in the three that have been approved,” Dyer told media at a Monday afternoon meeting. “But there won’t be any more approved for now.”

According to the ordinance, the moratorium on any new marijuana facilities will give the city time to “investigate the impacts of cannabis dispensing facilities, and if necessary, to promulgate reasonable regulations relating to such establishments.”

This way, any likelihood of negative effects of having the marijuana dispensaries will be brought to light.

The moratorium is set to expire in January 2017.

First medical pot dispensary opens its doors

For medical marijuana in Florida, the future is finally now.

Trulieve, the approved provider in northwest Florida, on Tuesday officially opened the first medical cannabis store in the state, in a strip mall in northeast Tallahassee.

“This is a historic day for the state of Florida,” CEO Kim Rivers told a roomful of reporters and medical cannabis advocates. The company was recently granted dispensing authorization by Florida’s Department of Health.

Trulieve is now the first medical marijuana provider to offer statewide delivery and make an in-store sale in Florida. Both were to Dallas Nagy, a Pasco County man who suffers chronic muscle spasms and seizures.

The company will offer both the low-THC, or non-euphoric, strain previously OK’d by the state and the higher-THC strain allowed this year for terminally ill patients, Rivers said. Its marijuana is grown indoors to avoid using pesticides and other chemicals.

The store’s opening caps off an often frustrating journey for patients and their caregivers who had clamored for medical cannabis in the Sunshine State.

In 2014, lawmakers passed, and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law, a measure legalizing low-THC marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. THC is the chemical that causes the high from pot.

That same version is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, the active ingredient that helps control spasms and seizures. It is processed into an oil to be taken by mouth.

A three-member panel of state officials was tasked with selecting five approved pot providers for each part of the state. But that process got bogged down as officials struggled through the rulemaking process and fielded legal challenges from providers who weren’t selected.

Tuesday’s grand opening also was attended by the co-founders of the CannaMoms, a group of Florida mothers who have been advocating for medical cannabis for their kids.

“The will of the people does change the world,” said Moriah Barnhart of Tampa, the organization’s CEO. Her daughter was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer at two years of age.

“We’re being able to relinquish the title of criminal we were forced to embrace in order to save our children’s lives,” she added. “We now know our neighbors are standing beside us.”

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical marijuana under state law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but selling marijuana is still a federal crime.

The Obama administration, however, has given guidance to federal prosecutors to not charge those, particularly “the seriously ill and their caregivers,” who distribute and use medical marijuana under a state law.

Also, a proposed state constitutional amendment is planned for the 2016 election, backed by Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, that would create a right to medical marijuana. A 2014 attempt failed at the ballot boxes.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission

First medical pot dispensary to open in Tallahassee

The first medical marijuana dispensary in Florida is slated to open.

Trulieve, the approved organization in northwest Florida, is set to open a dispensary in Tallahassee on Tuesday, one week after being given dispensing authorization by Florida’s health department.

The state’s Office of Compassionate Use, which was formed to oversee state regulation of medical marijuana, projects that there will be dispensing locations in 19 cities by the time all six organizations are up and running.

The legislature gave limited approval to medical marijuana in 2014, with many expecting it to be available early in 2015. The process was beset by administrative delays.

Patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms can order medical marijuana by contacting their physician, as long as both are in a state registry.

Trulieve, which will offer in-store sales in Tallahassee, is the first dispensary to open its doors in the state, according to a press release. The company plans to host a press conference in its store Tuesday afternoon.

Reprinted with permission of The Associated Press

medical marijuana

77% of Florida voters now back medical marijuana ballot initiative

A medical marijuana amendment continues to have strong support throughout Florida, according to a new poll.

The survey — conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research on behalf of the United for Care campaign — found 77 percent of likely Florida voters said they supported the ballot initiative. The survey found 20 percent were opposed it it, while 3 percent of likely voters said they were undecided.

Kevin Akins, a pollster with Anzalone Liszt Research, said the survey showed support for medical marijuana in Florida “is stronger than ever.” He said the survey found “a broad and diverse coalition of voters” support the amendment.

“I’m obviously pleased at these levels of support, but I’m also not surprised,” said Ben Pollara, the United for Care campaign manager. “The notion of allowing medical decisions to be made by doctors and patients, not politicians, is simply not controversial. Floridians are compassionate and they know that marijuana can help alleviate suffering.”

The firm conducted a similar survey in June 2014. That survey found 69 percent of voters supported the 2014 amendment. That version received 58 percent support, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

In a statement Monday, Pollara said the 2016 language is stronger than the 2014 initiative and addresses “a number of concerns that some voters expressed previously.” The language, he said, was unanimously approved by the Supreme Court.

The firm conducted the poll from July 17 through July 21. Respondents were read the ballot title and summary, and asked if they would vote “yes” or “no” on the amendment. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Pasco County man receives first delivery of medical marijuana in Florida

DSC_0021A Pasco County man suffering from Dystonia with Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms became the first Florida patient to receive a delivery of medical marijuana today from Trulieve, a medical cannabis dispensary.

The delivery came days after Trulieve became the first dispensary to receive formal authorization from the state Department of Health to both grow and dispense low-THC medical cannabis.

“Honoring our commitment to a statewide delivery service, we are pleased and proud to announce that the very first patient in the state has received low-THC medical cannabis,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said.

She added, “I have said this before, but we really want to thank the Department of Health for their supreme public service during this process.  The staff and leadership have been consummate professionals throughout this process and have been accessible and knowledgeable all along the way.”

Now that the first patient has received medical cannabis, Rivers said Trulieve would begin in-store sales of medical marijuana at its Tallahassee facility within the next few days. It will be the first such dispensary in Florida.

Patients won’t have to travel to the state capital to receive the drug. Trulieve will provide statewide delivery of low-THC cannabis immediately. Trulieve will also have high-THC medical marijuana available beginning in early August.

The legalization of marijuana has been a hot-button item across the country for the past several years. So far, 25 states have legalized medical marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Still, other states have some form of the issue on November ballots.

United for Care got a medical marijuana amendment on the 2014 ballot, but it was defeated. Although a majority of voters — about 58 percent — supported the initiative, it failed because state law requires a state constitutional amendment to get at least 60 percent of the vote.

The initiative is back on the ballot this Nov. 8. If approved, medical marijuana would become legal for those with “debilitating” medical conditions.

But more recent changes to laws have relaxed the laws regarding the prescribing of medical marijuana to some patients with the most severe or fatal diseases.

Doctors in Florida are allowed to dispense medical cannabis under the “Charlotte’s Web law.” That law allows doctors to prescribe the drug to treat a qualified patient with cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms provided no other satisfactory alternative treatment exists for that patient.

Terminally ill patients or those with certain medical conditions are allowed to try nontraditional remedies under the “Right to Try Act.”

Patients who wish to obtain an order for the low-THC cannabis or higher THC medical cannabis products may do so by contacting their physician who can issue an order for these products in accordance with Florida law.

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