Senate medical marijuana bill keeps industry restricted to seven distributors

medical-marijuana

A new bill introduced Monday to enact Florida’s medical marijuana program is being sharply criticized by promoters of Amendment 2 for keeping the budding business restricted to the state’s current seven approved producers.

Senate Bill 1758, introduced by state Sen. Denise Grimsley, the Republican from Lake Wales, lays out how Florida should manage and regulate medical marijuana from growing the plants to which doctors can recommend it to deciding which patients are eligible, to how the products are produced, packaged and sold, to who can administer them.

The bill’s intention is to set up the framework required by Amendment 2 to Florida’s Constitution, a measure approved by 71 percent of Florida voters in the November election.

While much of the legislature may have bought into Amendment 2 backers’ intentions to make medical products derived from marijuana available to a wide range of patients with debilitating conditions, the bill reflects a widening divide: who should profit from the new business.

The bill restricts the business initially to those already approved and licensed under the state’s much more limited medical marijuana laws approved in 2014. There are seven such medical marijuana dispensing companies, already growing, processing, packaging and selling limited products made from low-THC cannabis.

If the number of registered patients approved to use medical marijuana exceeds 250,000, the state can add three more companies, with one of them required to a company with African-American ownership. Each additional 250,000-patient base would authorize another three companies to get into the business.

Brian Hughes, spokesman for Smart Medicine for Florida, praised the bill after a cursory read.

“It is a sensible and conservative approach to moving forward in getting the medicine to patients. A cursory read finds benefits in this proposed legislation for patients, members of the law enforcement community, and physicians,” he said in a statement.

Yet Ben Pollara, manager of United For Care, which put Amendment 2 on the ballot, called the restriction something nobody wants “except the army of lobbyists” for the seven currently licensed companies.

“It’s absurd because it would lead to the creation of the seven largest marijuana businesses in the country, and ultimately not serve the will of 71 percent of Floridians who voted for this, and the half-million sick Floridians for which this was intended,” Pollara said. “It puts medical marijuana in the hands of a few gigantic players, the  detriment of everybody else.”

Pollara said the bill, however, “gets right” provisions relating to patients and doctors.

The bill allows for medical marijuana to be used by patients with debilitating illnesses, as defined in Amendment 2, now incorporated into Section 29, Article X of the Florida State Constitution, who have gotten recommendations from qualified doctors, and are registered with the state. They include people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, a positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a physical, medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms, a terminal condition, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


10 comments

  • Mary Forrest

    March 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Keep the lobbyist out of this. We need medicine NOW!

  • Roy Lawson

    March 6, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Grimsley is some Republican. Big government picking which companies win and lose.

    Crony capitalism or fascism? I can’t tell any more. Grimsley clearly doesn’t believe in the free market. I know corruption when I see it. We all know exactly what is happening here. Call the AG.

    • Robert Dakota

      March 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Agree! Follow the money, DOH own study says 1,900 care givers growers, processors and dispensaries. How deep in the pocket of the cartel are these republicans. They are not serving Floridians rather they are serving themselves brought and paid for by the cartel. We the people are tired of corrupt politicians. If this bill is passed how much are the citizens going to spend defending this corrupt bill. Corruption runs through this legislative process AG do your job investigate, convict and through the bums in jail.

    • Robert Dakota

      March 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Agree! Follow the money, DOH own study says 1,900 care givers growers, processors and dispensaries. How deep in the pocket of the cartel are these republicans. They are not serving Floridians rather they are serving themselves brought and paid for by the cartel. We the people are tired of corrupt politicians. If this bill is passed how much are the citizens going to spend defending this corrupt bill. Corruption runs through this legislative process investigate, convict and through the bums in jail.

  • Dan

    March 6, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    So how. An I get the correct strain, OG Kush or Northern Lights for my daughter with stage 4 cancer?

  • Glen Gibellina

    March 7, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Denise, why don’t you try that with CVS or Walgreens about the way they dispense far more lethal DRUGS than a PLANT
    Get real, this is a real disservice to the folks in pain and need

    • BJ

      March 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      You can’t The FL Cartel only processes Sativa or Indica, but that really doesn’t matter cause they have a monopoly its cheaper if you just drive to CO or CA buy it , stay a week on vacation, and then bring it home with you. In the end you will pay the same price. FL mmj is 10x more expensive then other medicinal markets. Its just gonna blow up the black market. No one in their right mind is gonna pay the prices FL disp.s are charging. You would have to just burn money to spend that kind of money. Plus most aren’t even FL companies ones from Georgia.

  • Bill Patton

    March 7, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I want to ask, “why is the is happening?” But we all know the answer to that one. Still I don’t remember all this hullabaloo over all the heroine based pain relievers Big Pharma brought to the market place. And again I want to say, “Why is that?” But once again, we all know the reason… don’t we! Wouldn’t it be grand if just once politicians would actually act on behalf and for the people putting greed and agendas aside.

  • Patricia Heather

    March 7, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Medical Marijuana Exchange is the only medical community to support and promote the medical benefits of marijuana and cannabis against diseases such as ADD and ADHD, Fibromyalgia, Endocrine Disorders, etc.
    legal medical marijuana

  • BJ

    March 16, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    As the president of the netherlands said when their parliment recently tried to go with a state system like this. “There is no reason to have these massive state gardens. Its proven these mass gardens can not produce the quality of medical cannabis a single grower could, so if we gave all the rights to grow to the state we would see a massive explosion in black market mmj cause its better quality and cheaper.”

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories