March 2017

Florida Legislature Passed New Medical Marijuana Bill

Vowing that it’s merely a beginning, a Florida House panel gave the approval on Tuesday to a medical-marijuana proposal castigated by supporters of a constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis for a wide swath of patients with debilitating ailments.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee overwhelmingly approved the measure (HB 1397), sponsored by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, with only one “no” vote after almost three hours of public testimony.

“I believe this is a calculated approach,” Rodrigues, R-Estero said, “but I’ll warn you that it’s not the final product.”

The Rodrigues proposal would forbid smoking of cannabis products as well as edibles, and would ban all but terminally ill patients from using vaporizers to have medical marijuana, among the greatest objections to the bill raised by supporters of the constitutional amendment.
Known as Amendment 2, more than 71 percent of Florida voters approved the ballot initiative in November. It came following the Legislature in 2014 and 2016 passed much-more limited medical marijuana laws, permitting non-euphoric cannabis for a number of patients and full-strength marijuana for those who have terminal illnesses.

The House bill would provide fewer added permits for purveyors of medical marijuana when compared to a Senate plan would allow. Presently, seven “dispensing organizations” have been approved by state health regulators.

Another point of controversy in the House proposal would require health officials to allow medical marijuana licenses to applicants that lost out when vying to become one of the handful of operators authorized to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric cannabis products more than a year ago.

The proposition would require the Department of Health to allow another five licenses after the patient population reaches 200,000, and another three licenses for every additional 100,000 patients registered in a state database.

That is in contrast with a leading Senate proposal, which will require the state to issue five new licenses by the end of the year and up to 20 new licenses —- almost quadruple the present number of seven —- by the time the patient registry reaches 500,000.

Rodrigues’ bill would likewise preserve a necessary three-month relationship between patients and physicians before health care providers could purchase the marijuana treatment, something critics say is hazardous.

Adversaries of the constitutional amendment —- including Drug Free America and Save Our Society from Drugs —- are throwing their support behind the Rodrigues bill.

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Actor Patrick Stewart Supports Oxford University’s Marijuana Research Program

The program will analyze the function of cannabis medications in treating pain, cancer and inflammatory diseases.

It follows calls from some MPs for legalization of cannabis on medical reasons, with such calls being backed by 58 per cent this past year.

In the last few years, studies have supported the medical value of cannabis for treating ailments for example multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and arthritis, and for coping with nerve pain.

The new program is a partnership between Kingsley Capital Partners and Oxford University, who are investing £10m an attempt to create an international center of excellence in cannabinoid research.

Professor of Gynaecological Oncology at Oxford, Ahmed Ahmed, said studies had began to make exciting biological discoveries, which might lead to new treatments for a host of different ailments.

“This area holds great promise for developing innovative therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients,” he said.

The program has received uncommon support – from actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who uses medical marijuana to treat ortho-arthritis.

He told the Telegraph: “Two years ago, in Los Angeles I was examined by a physician and given a note which gave me legal permission to buy, from a registered outlet, cannabis-based products, which I was advised might help the ortho-arthritis in both my hands.”

Routine usage of an ointment and chewy bar had enabled him to sleep through the night, while spraying his hands during the day had brought back mobility in his hands, he said, allowing him to make fists.

“As an outcome of this experience, I enthusiastically support the Oxford University Cannabis Research Plan,” he said.

The actor said he expected the research would help him and millions of others.

“This is an important step forward for Britain in a field of research that’s for too long been held back by prejudice, fear and ignorance.”

Now neither the Conservative nor Labour Party officially supports legalizing cannabis for medical use. Both Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have called for legalization for medical use for a while.

Sativex – a prescription-only drug used by patients afflicted by Multiple Sclerosis – is the sole licensed cannabis-based product in the Britain and is given to help facilitate muscle spasms. Nonetheless it’s doesn’t cause a high and is non-psychoactive.

NHS rationing bodies have rejected its use saying it was too costly to justify.

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