Florida is virtually starting over in writing rules that would allow the growth, production, sale and use of a pot extract, which means it might be several months or longer before medical marijuana is available in the state.
At a public workshop Tuesday in Orlando, state officials made it clear that they are a long way from being able to pick companies to grow and process cannabis extracts in Florida. That program, which was supposed to start in January, primarily was created to provide noneuphoric marijuana products to children who suffer intractable seizure disorders.
The top official for the state program would only say she hopes to get new proposed rules written by March and carefully offered no timetable promises beyond that.
“We now have to restart the rule-making process,” said Patricia Nelson, appointed two weeks ago to be director of the Office of Compassionate Use to oversee medical marijuana in Florida.
As a result, families with sick children, along with doctors, business owners and potential medical-marijuana growers, widely expressed frustration over the limited progress made since the Florida Legislature passed a law allowing limited medical-marijuana use last spring. Gov. Rick Scott signed it last summer.
“While we’re talking about all this, the patients are suffering, every single day,” said Seth Hyman of Weston, whose daughter Rebecca, 9, is one of the patients waiting. “Every single day that patient doesn’t have the opportunity to try this medicine, their lives are at risk.”
The law was to make a low-THC oil extracted from marijuana, sometimes known by its most popular brand name, “Charlotte’s Web,” available by this January to help children with intractable seizures and other people with certain brain disorders.
A series of public workshops and hearings last summer resulted in controversial proposed state regulations, which were challenged in court, and a judge struck down 13 of them.
Nelson insisted a lot has been accomplished nonetheless. Her office has overseen the creation of a doctor-training program, and at least eight doctors statewide have taken it and now are qualified to certify that patients may use the marijuana extract. The office also has created a computer registry to track the program.
She also said not all was lost from the first round of hearings, and that the findings will be incorporated into the new effort.
At the public workshop in Orlando, the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use took testimony from …Read More