Medical marijuana Archives - Page 7 of 28 - Florida Politics

7 big questions facing Florida politics heading into the fall

Labor Day has come and gone, and with it, any sense of the summer doldrums. Election Day is nigh. The most tumultuous election season in a generation is now heading into the homestretch. So once again, let’s ask some questions, the answers to which may hold the fate of the state, and even the nation.

How bad will the Zika-pocalypse get?

The Florida Department of Health has identified just under 800 cases of the mosquito-borne virus throughout the state, with Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood serving as ground zero. At what point, if at all, do we start to panic? When there are 1,000 cases? 2,000? 5,000? Such a large number seems far-fetched, but the funding to fight Zika is running out and Congress appears unable to devote more dollars to eradicating the problem. What we need now is for the Mouse and his rivals at Harry Potter Land to lean on every pol they’ve ever helped to find another gear.

Ask yourself this: If you are a German tourist and your choices are to visit Zika-plagued Florida or somewhere with less mosquitoes, where are you vacationing? And as legislative economist Amy Baker told lawmakers Monday, state revenues rely heavily on tourism these days, with a record 109 million visitors last fiscal year. “Currently, tourism-related revenue losses pose the greatest potential risk to the economic outlook from Zika,” her report said. “Previous economic studies of disease outbreaks and natural or manmade disasters have shown that tourism demand is very sensitive to such events.” Ya think?

By how many points will Donald Trump win Florida?

That’s right, The Donald will win the Sunshine State. Sure, sure, the difference in Hillary Clinton‘s ground game and Trump’s is like comparing Dalvin Cook to a high school running back, but it doesn’t matter. The Sunshine State is bizarro land that — despite the statistics — is still scarred from the 2008 economic collapse.

It DOES matter and it is telling that Trump can rally 40,000 Floridians to his events, while Clinton struggles to fill the room. And about those organizational and turnout issues; remember that the Florida GOP is running dozens of million-dollar state legislative campaigns. For Trump, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

What is Rick Scott’s ceiling?

Imagine for a moment if the Rick Scott who arrived in Tallahassee six years ago was anything like the man currently occupying the governor’s office. He would have had Donald Trump begging him to be his running mate with talk of him being a frontrunner himself in 2020.

Those disastrous first months of Scott’s tenure — along with an inexplicable aversion to the most basic understanding of the state’s open government laws — are what have the former health care executive’s approval numbers still in mixed-bag territory. But after facing head-on a summer of challenges and crisis, Scott has emerged as the kind of strong — dare I say, compassionate — leader who won’t be satisfied heading off into the sunset in January 2019.

Can Patrick Murphy close the gap on Marco Rubio?

The conventional wisdom taking shape is that Rubio won this race the moment he decided to double-back on his decision not to run for re-election. Last week, Rubio crossed a very important psychological threshold, earning the support of 50 percent of those surveyed by Quinnipiac University. This, despite all of the issues Republicans have at the top of the ballot. Plus, national Republicans see holding Rubio’s seat as the key to keeping control of the U.S. Senate.

How does Murphy, who seems to take one step back for every two steps forward, suppose he can close the six- or seven-point deficit? I genuinely don’t know, other than to say it was only January when Murphy was a double-digit underdog to Alan Grayson — and look how that turned out.

What kind of permanent damage is being done to Pam Bondi’s political career?

For those who know Bondi from her days as omnipresent spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office and continue to see her in the Tampa social scene, it’s shocking to see “Pam” at the center of a national pay-to-play scandal involving Trump University.

Although she remains a popular figure in Republican circles and she might one day be able to score a gig with Fox News, her post-Cabinet future is unsure.

Will Sheldon Adelson pony up one more time to stop John Morgan’s marijuana initiative?

The only thing standing between Floridians and de facto legalization of marijuana is a billionaire in Las Vegas who in 2014 bankrolled the opposition to the medical marijuana initiative led by John Morgan. So far, Adelson is relatively quiet in 2016, both in the presidential race and in the Amendment 2 campaign.

That’s because he’s probably reading the same polls everyone else is … the ones that show Amendment 2 with nearly 70 percent support. But if Uncle Shelly pulls out his checkbook, those numbers could change quickly.

Will national Republicans get interested in David Jolly’s campaign?

The Pinellas Republican has won the first 10 days of the general election campaign versus Democrat Charlie Crist. He swatted back not one, but two flimsy attacks by Crist, while gaining earned media for his work on the Zika crisis. He’s even launched a cute TV ad featuring his puppy.

But he’s still staring uphill at district registration numbers that favor Crist. And he just doesn’t have the resources to fight an air war with the former governor. Jolly’s best chance of keeping his seat is for national Republicans — some hoping to put the final nail in Crist’s coffin — to pay for the air cover that Jolly’s grassroots campaign needs.

Al Hoffman gives $25,000 to Drug-Free Florida

“Drug-Free Florida” received a financial boost from a former ambassador in August.

Campaign finance records show the group received $25,000 from Al Hoffman between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2. The contribution was the only one “Drug-Free Florida” reported receiving during the one-week reporting period.

Hoffman, the former chair of the WCI Communities and a past ambassador to Portugal, was among the top backers of the opposition campaign in 2014, giving it $25,000 in June of that year.

“Drug-Free Florida” ran a successful campaign against the 2014 medical marijuana ballot initiative, and has been ramping up its efforts ahead of the 2016 election.

The committee spent $11,469 in the one-week period. It ended the fundraising period with $1.5 million cash-on-hand.

The opposition campaign out-raised the group backing the 2016 ballot initiative. Records show “People United for Medical Marijuana” raised $23,067 during the fundraising period. While many of those donations were small, the organization received a $10,000 from Enrique Yanes, owner of Pure Beauty Farms in Miami.

The 2014 amendment received 58 percent of the vote, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

Recent polling indicates there is strong support for the 2016 ballot initiative. A Public Policy Polling survey released last week showed 70 percent of likely Florida voters said they supported the 2016 amendment.

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

Poll: 70% of Floridians support medical marijuana amendment

A medical marijuana ballot initiative continues to enjoy strong support from Floridians.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday shows 70 percent of likely Florida voters said they supported the 2016 ballot initiative. That’s up from a similar survey conducted in March, which found 65 percent of voters said they supported the ballot initiative.

The 2016 ballot initiative allows individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician to use medical marijuana. It also calls on the Department of Health to register and regulate centers to produce and distribute marijuana and issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.

The amendment defines a debilitative condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

A similar initiative received 58 percent support in 2014, just shy of the 60 percent needed to become law.

The poll found strong support across most demographics, including 81 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independent voters, and 55 percent of Republicans.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 744 likely voters between Sept. 4 and Sept. 6. The survey had a margin of error of 3.6 percent.


Vote No on 2 refutes claims made by medical marijuana supporters

Vote No on 2 is refuting statements made by medical marijuana backers in recent weeks, including that medical-grade marijuana will not get a patient high.

“These lies are deplorable,” said Christina Johnson, the spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 campaign. “Floridians deserve to know the truth, not an altered version of it.”

The campaign, which led a successful opposition campaign when medical marijuana was on the ballot in 2014, is taking issue with a column in South Florida Times, an African-American weekly newspaper. In the column, Kim McCray, the outreach director for the United for Care campaign, said “medical-grade marijuana alone will not get that patient ‘high.’”

“What is … important to know is although some debilitated patients may require higher levels of THC than others based on their specific medical condition, medical-grade marijuana alone will not get that patient ‘high,’ no matter what level of THC, CBD or any other compound is found in the plant,” she wrote.

Not true, said Johnson. She said THC gets a person high “no matter what you call it.” Johnson also said her comments contradict statements made by the United for Care campaign that said THC is the component that gets a person high.

The United for Care campaign sent out an email to supporters when the low-THC product authorized under law went on the market. Current law allows “low-THC” medical marijuana only, unless a patient is terminally ill.

“The vast preponderance of science, medicine and anecdote say that THC, the chemical that gets a person ‘high,’ is also the component that brings much of the plant’s medical benefits,” the email reads.

The claim that medical-grade marijuana won’t get a user high has already been debunked by PolitiFact, which rated it “mostly false.”

The Vote No on 2 campaign is also questioning statements made in a recent email to United for Care supporters. That email said most other health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians “support medical marijuana access and research.”

The email criticized the Florida Medical Association’s decision to oppose the amendment.

But Johnson said while those organizations support more research, they have opposed medical marijuana laws like Amendment 2.

“No one is opposed to more research. The ‘No on 2’ campaign, the AMA, the FMA, the AAP and others are just opposed to legalizing marijuana under the guise of medicine when there’s no conclusive evidence to prove that it works or that it’s safe,” she said in a statement. “The other side likes to talk about marijuana as some ancient miracle drug. They bring up how doctors used to prescribe marijuana back in the 1930s. But that’s not very scientific; especially when you consider the fact that doctors also once prescribed tobacco as medicine.”

Vote No on 2 led the effort to oppose the 2014 ballot initiative. The 2014 ballot received 58 percent support, just shy of the 60 percent needed to pass.

The 2016 amendment allows individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician to use medical marijuana. It also calls on the Department of Health to register and regulate centers to produce and distribute marijuana and issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.

The amendment defines a debilitative condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

The amendment is on the November ballot.

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.

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