Goodman: Now’s the time to be heard on medical marijuana in Florida

If you want to see medical marijuana made readily available in Florida to people in need of chronic pain relief — and an overwhelming 71 percent of Floridians said they did in balloting last November — you need to pay attention to what’s happening now in the Florida Legislature.

A House bill establishing regulations for medical pot is getting more restrictive, as the lower chamber pays heed to anti-drug groups.

The Sunshine State News writes:

Not only would smokeable cannabis be banned, but patients would also be barred from buying more than a 90-day supply of marijuana, edibles would be off-limits and “vaping” would only be allowed for terminal patients.

So if you can’t smoke medical marijuana, how do you ingest it?

The delivery methods, activists say, would be far and few between for suffering patients, requiring them to use different routes of ingestion, like marijuana oil or capsules, in order to find relief.

Cannabis oil can cost patients a pretty penny — up to $250 per gram. In Colorado, the same amount costs $30.

The Senate, on the other hand, is moving on a more reasonable bill that’s supported by backers of the constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 2.

“The Senate keeps making their bill better, while the House keeps making theirs worse, and I’ve got to hope they can meet in the middle with these negotiations,” Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the Amendment 2 committee, told reporters Tuesday.

Both bills would prohibit smoking of the plant, however — something that voters approved, according to backers of the amendment.

“Patient advocates, however, still prefer the Senate plan because it is less restrictive than a House proposal,” writes the Tallahassee Democrat, the capital city’s daily newspaper. “They applaud Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, efforts to do away with a 90-day wait period for patients whose doctor recommends cannabis as part of a treatment plan. The Senate also breaks with the House to allow edibles and vaping.”

The Senate bill (SB 406), sponsored by Bradley, sailed through the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday, 6-1, and is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote.

Bradley’s measure would allow for more dispensaries, now to be called “medical marijuana treatment centers,” than would the House plan (HB 1397).

The House bill flew through the House Committee on Health and Human Services on Monday by a vote of 14-4. It’s headed to the House floor. One proposed amendment would add even more restrictions, including “banning patients from consuming medical marijuana from devices not purchased at medical marijuana treatment centers and prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women, even if it was recommended by their doctor,” Sunshine State News writes.

Questions on patient care should be left to doctors, not politicians.

Floridians who want medical marijuana — who want what they voted for —  need to let members of the Legislature know that. Right away.