Florida’s Cannabis Industry Progresses Amid Implementation Questions
Floridians hoping to take part in the cannabis industry may have to wait longer than planned. A series of public hearings across the state have revealed that the Department of Health is attempting to alter significant measures prior to implementing the constitutional amendment. For the 71% of Floridians who voted in favor of Amendment 2 as written, there are some concerns.
First, rather than allow state certified physicians to determine the need for medical cannabis, the DOH wants the Florida Board of Medicine to decide who and what qualifies. Amendment 2 supporters claim that eliminating the physician/patient relationship reduces program efficacy while creating unnecessary bureaucracy. Advocates fear that relying on the FBM will make adding conditions next to impossible as pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to defend their interests’ increases with medical cannabis patient counts.
Additionally, while Amendment 2 called for creating a new medical cannabis program entirely, the DOH is attempting to expand the Office of Compassionate Use which was created as a result of passing Florida’s Senate Bill 1030 in 2014. Known as the “Charlottes Web” bill, SB 1030 originally allowed for 5 vertically integrated cultivation centers responsible for growing, processing, and dispensing combustion free forms of CBD only extracts, primarily capsules and tinctures. As of February 2017, there are 7 licensed facilities operating under SB 1030, but that is nowhere near enough to supply the estimated 500,000 qualified patients living in Florida argue Amendment 2 proponents.
To address these issues, Republican Senator Jeff Brandes, a vocal advocate for medical cannabis, recently introduced legislation to remove any opportunity to circumvent the voter approved constitutional amendment. “The overwhelming support of Amendment 2 was a strong mandate that Floridians demand fundamental change to the way we regulate medical marijuana” said Brandes. The bill, SB 614 requires state regulators to implement the amendment as written.
Despite what may be seen as political jockeying, there’s no shortage of interest from Florida locals looking to carve their niche in the industry. At last month’s Cannabis LAB networking event, over 200 professionals gathered in Miami to discuss the nascent industry and how to best get involved. LAB stands for Law, Accounting, and Business, and the events are geared towards connecting professionals and creating the foundation of a strong Florida cannabis industry.
According to Robert Freidman, Cannabis LAB founder, “The national launch party for Cannabis LAB, in Miami, was a tremendous success. The desire and demand for business professionals from all industries to learn more about the cannabis industry is apparent.” Friedman continued, “The momentum in Florida is unbelievable as evidenced by our continually growing events. We realized early on Cannabis LAB is more a product of market demand than any unique vision of the future on our part.”
The Cannabis LAB will be holding events throughout Florida, click here for more information.
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