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Florida Senator Pushes for Less Restrictive Medical Marijuana Regulations

medical-marijuana.JPGOn Thursday, a prominent Senator, Rob Bradley, proposed a new bill to broadly legalize medical marijuana. The proposal calls would increase the number of marijuana growing licenses and make it easier for doctors to prescribe it for medical treatment.

This bill came days after the health officials implemented the constitutional amendment that allowed cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes. Over 71% of voters approved of the amendment back in November.

One of the first proposals by Bradley calls for the 7 marijuana licenses currently offered to be quadrupled once the total number of patients in the State reaches 500,000. This would increase the total number of licensed growers to nearly 30. Many lawmakers and health officials expect a large number of patients to be registered by the end of the year. The new plan (SB 406) by Bradley also called for the removal of the rule which required doctors to treat patients for at least 90 days before writing a prescription for medical marijuana. The proposal would also seek to increase the amount of products patients can purchase from 45 days to 90 days and would ban some forms of edible marijuana products fashioned to attract children.

The original constitutional amendment permits doctors to order marijuana for the treatment of the following conditions, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Parkinson's, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or multiple sclerosis. Doctors would also be able to order medicinal marijuana for other disabling medical conditions within the same class of those listed, and in which a medical practitioner feels that the use of medicinal marijuana would possibly outweigh the potential adverse health risks for patients.

The health department has floated a rule that would leave it to the State Board of Medicine to determine which patients with unspecified conditions qualify for treatment.

Senator Bradley's proposal, however, did not define any specified language through which doctors would be restricted from deciding which patients qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Though his proposal does define chronic nonmalignant pain, which is not addressed in the amendment, as pain caused by a disabling condition or originates from a disabling medical condition and persists beyond the normal course of that condition.

Compared to current law, there is a slight difference in the training required before doctors can prescribe marijuana. The current law permits doctors to carry out an 8-hour training course before registering patients for medical marijuana treatment. However, the Senator's proposed bill would cut off the training from eight hours to four.

Another provision in Bradley's proposal is to allow the seven licensed dispensing organizations - which are currently allowed to grow, to process and to dispense non-euphoric medical marijuana for patients with epilepsy or cancer, as well as full strength cannabis to patients that are terminally ill - to function as legalized medical marijuana treatment centers as defined in the Constitution.

Under the current law, once 250,000 patients have registered in the state's database health officials are to authorize three new medical marijuana operators licenses with one of the three to be a member of Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association

Bradley's proposal would grant an additional five licenses for marijuana treatment centers immediately after 250,000 patients are registered in the state database. An additional five should be given when that figure reaches 350,000; five more after registration of 400,000 patients; and another five when that figure goes up to 500,000. Essentially, for every 100,000 patients registered five more licenses should be granted.

Comments from lawmakers suggest that the number of new licenses will not be enough based on what many expect to be a fast growing patient database. Though the proposed legislation may not be the best, it is decent progress when you consider this is the first bill released from either side.

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