Pubdate: Wed, 11 Feb 2015
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2015 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Dan Sweeney


Measure Targets Concerns of Law Enforcement

A medical marijuana bill that addresses the concerns of law 
enforcement was filed Tuesday in the state House.

Unlike a Senate bill on the subject, the House measure would limit 
marijuana treatment to HIV/ AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, ALS, Parkinson's 
disease, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis or an illness which a 
doctor estimates will kill the patient within a year. It also bans 
smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes.

It largely addresses problems raised by the Florida Sheriff's 
Association, which successfully campaigned against a proposed medical 
marijuana state constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014.

"You don't smoke medicine," said Bob Gaultieri, the Sheriff of 
Pinellas County and the association's head of legislative affairs.

But the bill is raising concerns among advocates of medical 
marijuana, who say the limited list of diseases would exclude many 
patients who could benefit from using pot.

"I have a friend with a daughter that has MPS3. Who's heard of that? 
There's like 4,000 Americans who suffer from it, and she would be 
excluded from this," said Ben Pollara, campaign manager of United for 
Care, which unsuccessfully pushed for constitutional change last year.

Amendment 2 garnered 58 percent of the vote, 2 percent shy of what it 
needed to pass. United for Care is once again gathering signatures to 
get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016.

That petitioning is putting pressure on the legislature to come up 
with its own version of medical marijuana law.

The Senate bill, filed in January, would cover a list of diseases and 
of qualifying symptoms, such as severe and persistent pain, nausea or 
muscle spasms. It also allows for smoking marijuana.

It addresses some issues opponents have raised by allowing county 
commissions to decide whether to allow marijuana dispensaries and 
making it more difficult for minors to get a medical marijuana 
recommendation from a doctor.

The Florida Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill in 2014. The 
so-called Charlotte's Web law allows only marijuana low in the 
chemical that produces a high. And though it affects a relatively 
small portion of Floridians, the exact rules by which that marijuana 
would be grown and dispensed are still being debated a year later.
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