Florida sets last public hearing for medical marijuana law



The Sept. 5 hearing comes after two workshops each drew crowds topping 200 people to Tallahassee. While the first two gatherings were designed to take testimony on how to guide the new medical marijuana growing, sales and distribution, the Department of Health’s rule now looks all but finalized.

Growers, advocates, business lobbyists and marijuana industry wannabe’s formed the bulk of the audience. Many criticized how five growing and distribution centers, scattered geographically across the state, would be selected and operate.

Under legislation signed in June by Gov. Rick Scott, these five centers would be run by longstanding nurseries, firms that have been in business at least 30 years with an inventory of at least 400,000 plants.

In the final draft of the proposed rule, state officials continue to stand by the idea of throwing the competition open to a lottery if more than one grower sought a license in a region.

This provision has drawn almost unanimous condemnation from those testifying at the two workshops.

Despite drawing plenty of questions, the department rule doesn’t further clarify another provision allowing growers to deliver a 90-day supply of their product to patients using trucks, vans and cars, with mail-delivery likely out since it risks further violation of federal law that already prohibits the sale of marijuana.

Although low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound which produces the marijuana high, the liquid marijuana strain soon to be available in Florida would be rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, which proponents say helps manage pain and seizures.

The low-THC measure gained support this spring in the Republican-ruled Legislature after a more sweeping, proposed constitutional amendment was approved for the November ballot, allowing medical marijuana for a much larger range of illnesses.


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