By: Mike Vasilinda; Capitol News Service
June 5, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Among the $409 million in projects vetoed by Governor Rick Scott, there were three items that would have provided over three million dollars to Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida.
The state budget called for the money to be used to begin studying medical marijuana and its effects.
Research on how cannabis works and any potential side effects is limited due to classification as a dangerous drug under federal law. In May, Senator Bill Galvano pushed for lawmakers to change this classification and get answers.
“I want to know the real effects. What are the negative effects? What are the downsides?” said Sen. Galvano.
Lawmakers responded by proposing two million dollars for the University of Florida and just over one million dollars for Moffitt Cancer Center, but the research funding didn’t make it past the Governor’s desk.
In vetoing money for marijuana research, Governor Rick Scott wrote that the University of Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center both had plenty of money to fund the research on their own.
Marijuana lobbyist Jeff Sharkey says the vetoes are ill-timed.
“Research allows doctors and physicians to understand the impact of medical marijuana on these various conditions. This was a start to move this process forward,” says Sharkey.
In Canada, a government-sanctioned medical marijuana grower has a full-time medical doctor on staff. WCTV reporters traveled to the grow house as part of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Tilray Medical Director Dr. Richard Lucas said, “You can start looking, for example, plants that MLS patients tend to use at a higher majority than other people with different symptoms.”
Lawmakers will be back in the Capitol for a special session Wednesday, but medical marijuana is not on the agenda. It could be added, but it is unlikely lawmakers will try and revive the research money.
Governor Scott also vetoed $370,000 tied to Moffitt Cancer Center because lawmakers didn’t pass a bill setting up regulations for medical marijuana. Unless lawmakers act, the Department of Health will decide how to regulate medical cannabis.