Today Florida State Representative Greg Stuebe filed House Bill 683 which would legalize the use and state-licensed distribution of medical cannabis. The measure is a companion bill to Senate Bill 528, which was filed by Senator Senator Jeff Brandes in January.
House Bill 683, unlike Senate Bill 528, would prohibit the actual smoking of medical cannabis. Instead, patients would be required to vaporize or consume it through edibles, tinctures, topicals or oils. The proposal would also set a stricter list of qualifying conditions.
“We are encouraged to see this companion bill filed by Rep. Steube”, says Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager for United for Care, which is working on a medical cannabis legalization initiative aimed at the 2016 ballot. “However, the exclusion of qualifying symptoms – in addition to qualifying diseases – and the prohibition on a patient’s ability to consume their medicine as recommended by a doctor is alarming.”
Pollara continues; “ Like SB 528, the bill is considerably more comprehensive than previously passed Senate Bill 1030, which only allowed for a low-THC, high-CBD strain of marijuana that would primarily help those suffering with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. However, unlike SB 528, this bill bans smoking and severely restricts what conditions would be eligible under the law.”
Pollara stresses that it’s “absolutely crucial that doctors have the freedom to make these recommendations based on specific symptoms, in addition to named diseases. Our position remains that legislation should not stand between a doctor and patient in mandating the manner in which that patient consumes their medicine.”
Pollara concedes that although House Bill 683 is “a strong starting point from the House”, it “just does not meet the needs of all Florida patients“.
Those interested in signing and downloading United for Care’s initiative can do so by clicking here.