Florida Lawmaker Works to Increase Medical Cannabis Access
A Democratic lawmaker in Florida wants medical cannabis patients in the state to have easier access to the treatment.
That is one of the goals behind a bill being introduced by state House Representative Andrew Learned as Florida’s legislative session opened on Tuesday.
Learned’s proposal, House Bill 679, “would change Florida’s medical cannabis program, offering several technical clarifications,” local television station WFTS explained.
Among those changes, the bill “would reduce costs for people by requiring fewer doctor’s visits, allow patients to keep their registration cards for two years instead of one and give people the option to use telehealth to refill their prescriptions,” according to WFTS.
Moreover, the bill would implement regulations on the sale of Delta-8, the hemp extract that is known to yield a similar high to cannabis with Delta-9 THC and that has become ubiquitous in the years since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which effectively legalized hemp on the federal level.
Learned told the station that “the first thing to understand about [the bill] is this is the first bipartisan marijuana package we’ve really run as a state in five years since the constitutional amendment passed.”
“Just getting both sides to agree on a way forward, I count this as a win already,” Learned said.
“This does things like, again, like keeping harmful products out of the hands of children, it’s making sure that we clean up advertising statues so we aren’t inadvertently advertising medical marijuana products in general to minors,” Learned continued. “It’s improving the program from a practical use perspective like I said with telehealth but also things like DUI testing and creating testing councils for that. Making sure products are safe and that a hemp product for example, like a CBD really is a CBD. Right now there’s no testing requirement pre-sale.”
Learned said that the bill will provide needed regulation for the burgeoning CBD industry.
“It’s still legal; we’re just changing some definitions and making sure the product is safe and tested, and we’re also limiting them to the sale of over 21. Right now, there’s no age limit so children can buy this stuff,” he told WFTS.
Florida voters passed a measure to legalize medical cannabis in 2016. Two years ago, the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that ended the ban on smokable medical cannabis products.
In October, an administrative judge in Florida ordered a requirement from the state health department to ban services like Leafly, which patients had used to order medical cannabis online.
The Florida Department of Health had said that “the services were prohibited under a 2017 law that set up a structure for the Florida cannabis industry,” according to a local news report at the time, but the judge found that “the ban on the use of the third-party sites amounted to an unadopted rule and ordered the state agency to ‘immediately discontinue reliance on its policy regarding online ordering of medical marijuana through third-party websites.’”
Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the Sunshine State, though there have been growing calls from both activists and prominent politicians there to change that.
Legalization figures to be a significant issue in Florida’s governor’s race, with Democratic hopefuls currently trying to outflank one another on the issue.
“Let me be clear: If I’m elected governor, I will legalize cannabis in the Sunshine State,” Charlie Crist, the former governor and current congressman vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said in October. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida.”
Crist is contending with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for the Democratic nomination, and the right to face Crist in the general election.
After Crist’s pledge in October, Fried called him out on his previous positions when he was governor and still a member of the Republican party.
“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried said on Twitter at the time. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”