Medical marijuana choices must be made in Session 2017

Published: Feb. 27, 2017 at 4:14 PM EST
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

February 27, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Seven growers are currently licensed to grow, distribute and sell medical marijuana in Florida. But after six million people approved Amendment 2 in November, lawmakers must decide if the current system will meet the needs of thousands of new patients-- and plenty of people are saying they won’t.

Afflicted with ALS, Cathy Jordan has advocated for medical marijuana for almost 30 years.

“I'm 67. I was supposed to be dead at 41,” says Cathy with a twinkle in her eye.

Now the group she founded, the Cannabis Action Network, is poised to be a player in enacting voters wishes when they approved medical marijuana last November.

Jodi James says lawmakers have tough choices.

“And I think the decisions that are going to be made over the next 60 days are gonna decide if patients can live and stay in Florida, or whether they are going to have to move or die,” says James.

Currently, seven growers are licenses to cultivate, distribute and sell medical marijuana at retail. They’ve hired lobbyists to beat back free market legislation that was filed by state Senator Jeff Brandes.

“The cartel system that we have today is not sustainable. And ultimately it will produce an increase in the black market if you simply have a cartel with high prices and a monopoly,” says Brandes.

Michael Visher was a pot pioneer in Colorado. He and partners are pitching jobs and more jobs by opening the market.

“So you give mom and pop an opportunity to open a store that employs five to ten people and you open up a hundred or two hundred of these businesses throughout the state; now you’ve created significant financial impact,” says the pot entrepreneur.

And the fight isn't just over who can see medical marijuana, but what they can sell.

Most of Florida’s law enforcement is opposing smokeable marijuana. They also want prohibitions on candies and other edibles. But many patients feel the promise of Amendment 2 will go up in smoke if they come up with too many regulations.

Under the amendment approved by voters, the state has until September, nine months after the amendment took effect, to have rules in place. If it fails, individual citizens can go to court to force their access to medical marijuana.