Sen. Rob Bradley is preparing to free the Charlotte’s Web law from a bureaucratic swamp of lawsuits, hearings and workshops. He filed a shell bill, which his Regulated Industries Committee will take up Tuesday.
SB 7066 states: “The Legislature intends to revise laws relating to low-THC cannabis. Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2015.”
The bill’s language will be available at least 24 hours before Tuesday’s 1:30 p.m. meeting. It will attempt to solve what Rep. Matt Gaetz described as the “unsolved mystery” of injecting the Legislature into the argument between growers and the Department of Health on how to implement the Compassionate Medicinal Cannabis Act of 2014 without contributing to further delay (see Section 2 above).
“I hope the bill clarifies the law and expands it to help more people,” said Ron Watson, who represents marijuana interests and thinks the best way to help more people is to allow higher levels of THC. “As long as it’s non-smokable it is a medicine. (Right now) it’s like saying use aspirin for your heart attack but not your headache.”
Watson’s line of thinking accomplishes two ends. Authorizing more conditions to be treated with cannabis helps the bottom line of a nascent industry.
“I’m a free market guy but that’s not my interest: The discussion I’m looking forward to is if the conditions are expanded then where is the fair line for the THC levels to be set to help all the patients with the conditions,” Watson said of Tuesday’s meeting.
Section 2 indicates that Bradley intends to bypass rule making and implement the law by statute. That may be more difficult than it sounds. The Department of Health was to have had rules in place by Jan. 1. It,however, was caught in a vise created by lawmakers.
The 2014 act authorized just five licenses to cultivate marijuana. And as Patricia Nelson chided growers who complained about the upfront costs of an industry that today would be servicing a patient pool of fewer than 2,000 — this is just the beginning.
About half the states have medicinal marijuana laws; three allow recreational use of the plant. Florida is a greenhouse, everything grows here and there are reports speculating medicinal marijuana could grow into a $700 million industry.
There are at least 20 growers who meet the licensing requirements specified by lawmakers and have the financial backing to qualify for the five licenses authorized.
Another way to look at it is this way: There are 15 individuals to cry foul if the rules or procedures are not favorable to their interests. (The rule of law and access to courts are things we cherish as Americans.)
Those 15 may have been part of the “unsolved mystery — for now,” Gaetz had in mind when he spoke Monday.
In December Bradley said seeing the Charlotte’s Web law implemented this year was near the top of his agenda for the 2015 Legislative Session. We’ll know by 1:30 p.m. Monday how he intends to stop the legal merry-go-round it’s been on, and have available and accessible medicinal cannabis oil for epileptic children.