Bobby Powell joins push to allow medical marijuana treatment for those with sickle cell disease
Image via Phil Sears.

Legislature 04 ps 060817
Powell's legislation serves as a companion measure to a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Patricia Williams.

Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell is joining the effort to allow individuals diagnosed with sickle cell disease to be treated with medical marijuana.

Powell’s push (SB 1274) will serve as a companion measure to a bill (HB 645) introduced in the House by Rep. Patricia Williams, a fellow Democrat.

State law currently lists 11 conditions that permit individuals to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Those conditions spelled out in the statute include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, testing positive for HIV or AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

The measure from Powell is simple and straightforward, as it would simply add sickle cell disease to that list.

Individuals can also receive medical marijuana treatment if they suffer from “[m]edical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated” or from a “terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.”

Those suffering from chronic nonmalignant pain can also use the drug for treatment.

Sickle cell disease, like the many conditions already enumerated under Florida’s medical marijuana law, can cause acute pain among those suffering from the condition.

But states that have legalized medical marijuana have been inconsistent as to whether those diagnosed with sickle cell disease qualify for treatment.

As reported by the Miami Herald, Arkansas — like Florida — also does not allow sickle cell patients to utilize the drug. Other states — such as Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania — do offer medical marijuana to those diagnosed with sickle cell disease.

That Miami Herald piece also detailed pushback from some members of the black community who otherwise support the legalization of medical marijuana. Sickle cell disease disproportionately affects the black community, and some feel the lack of inclusion of the disease is unfair.

Powell and Williams are looking to change that here in Florida. If approved in the upcoming Session, the legislation would go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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