FAMU’s medical marijuana education program takes flack from lawmakers

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
November 7, 2019

Multiple other localities in Florida have passed ordinances creating civil penalties, rather than criminal charges, for people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- FAMU’s minority medical marijuana education program came under tough scrutiny from lawmakers Thursday morning.

The program has had a difficult time explaining how it’s spent its funding.

This was the second time FAMU’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative presented to lawmakers.

The program’s new director, Patricia Green-Powell, tried to focus on the positive.

“41 events across Florida have netted over 20,000 participants,” said Green-Powell.

But lawmakers were quick to cut to the chase.

The program has been fraught with concerns over how it’s spent state money.

FAMU was given $2.1 million for the education program in August, just weeks later DOH stopped requiring the university to report how it was spending the money.

The university now filling the primary oversight role didn’t sit well with lawmakers like state Senator Audrey Gibson.

“The program just runs whichever way?” Gibson asked.

“No, there's oversight with our Office of Compliance,” Green-Powell responded.

Glory Brown, Director of FAMU's Office of Sponsored Programs said the university would be open to more oversight from the state.

“Our records are open, they're available. We have a Department of Compliance, we have the audit, we do regular meetings monthly and we adhere to any request,” said Brown.

Senate Budget Chair Rob Bradley wouldn’t specify exactly what part of the program’s budget concerned him most.

“There's several things. The entire program brings concern to me,” said Bradley.

Financial information presented to lawmakers showed salaries make up more than three fourths of the program’s $1.4 million expenditures.

FAMU says it’s satisfied with progress that has been made with the education program.

14 research projects through the program are currently in their early stages.

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