Terminally Ill Patients In Florida Could Finally Get Medical Marijuana

By May Wilkerson 11/25/15

Doctors may be able to surpass the state's strictly enforced process and go straight to patients.

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Finally, terminally ill people in Florida may soon have long-awaited access to medical marijuana, thanks to a measure that cleared a House panel last week. The bill includes a provision that would allow full-strength marijuana only in non-smoking form.

The new law would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill patients treatments that are currently being tested in clinical trials, but are not yet cleared for pharmaceutical use. These treatments would include medical marijuana.

The new initiative was specifically introduced to allow patients access to Charlotte’s Web, a non-euphoric form of marijuana that was approved in 2014 to treat cancer and epilepsy. However, that law limited the number of nurseries permitted to cultivate medical marijuana to five in the state.

Charlotte’s Web was supposed to be available to patients on Jan. 1, 2016, but legal challenges have led to delays as the Health Department struggles to finalize the selection of five licensed nurseries. An amendment to last week’s marijuana bill would raise the number of approved nurseries to 20. But thanks to the new bill, doctors could soon be able to circumvent this process and get the drug straight to patients who need it the most.

Rep. Randolph Bracy, a Democrat from Orlando, said the goal of the new amendment is to get the medication as quickly as possible to patients with terminal illness.

“We have to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and evaluate the impact of Rep. Bracy’s amendment,” Rep. Matt Gaetz said. “And determine what impact that would have specifically on the existing licensure process. It is our expectation that very soon, this week or next week, licenses will be issued. We don’t want that disrupted in any way.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.