Three Perspectives on Florida’s Medical Marijuana Act


Recent legal challenges to Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act concluded last week, ostensibly clearing the way for its use under limited circumstances. (I want you to be very mindful and have a heightened awareness about the use of the word “limited” as we discuss medical marijuana.) The decision by the state administrative law judge in Tallahassee to throw out the latest legal challenge does not put Florida’s non-euphoric medical marijuana law back on track. While members of various lobbying groups such as United for Care gather the necessary signatures to place the issue of medical and recreational cannabis on the ballot in 2016, we must analyze what plans to move forward with Charlotte’s Web means for cannabis consumers, frightened prohibitionists, and political operatives.

Cannabis Consumers: Under the Act, which was first signed on June 16, 2014, an extremely narrow set of products may be prescribed for an equally limited number of physical ailments and diseases.  Unlike most other medical marijuana states, Florida selected a particular kind of strain of cannabis and then constricted it even further.  While commonly referred to as “Charlotte’s Web,” the new law allows the consumption of low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD) plant material. Legislators don’t like THC because they believe feeling better when consuming medicine should be reserved for Big Pharma’s products, which provide legal drugs that kill hundreds of thousands of people each year.  Putting it into context, let us analogize cannabis with gooey chocolate chip cookies.  The Florida legislature is saying that only those cookies that are vegan, sugar free, and contain no more than 3.75 chocolate chips can be legally consumed to treat those diagnosed with cancer or ALS.  Lest we not forget that So Called Conservatives want to keep patients away from THC, but THC has its own medicinal value, as it is the primary reason chemotherapy patients consume cannabis to effectively treat nausea and weight loss.

Frightened Prohibitionists: The Prohibitionists, or as I like to call them, “Marco Rubio, Chris Christie et al.,” seek to slow down the progressive attitudes of reforming the status quo. They unintelligibly posit that any medical application leads to expanded recreational use, which then leads to an increased use by preschool children with pigtails, and finally, the Zombie Apocalypse shall materialize.  But the Act is so narrowly focused that Red politicians and Big Pharma lobbyists can rest comfortably. For lower income patients, it may be cost prohibitive to purchase medical marijuana and insurance companies are not covering pot treatments. Doctors are hesitant about prescribing Charlotte’s Web, too, because doing so violates federal law and not all doctors want to sacrifice their beautiful medical licenses from Harvard to help kids suffering from seizures.

Political Operatives:  Expect the Republican political machinists in Florida to attempt to portray Florida law as “a balance between the needs to protect the citizenry from the evils of cannabis.” Republicans desire more medical marijuana regulation than their liberal counterparts. Then, compare the will of the people in Florida, who overwhelmingly support the decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of cannabis with that of the less government party, i.e., GOP, who fund a nonexistent or “limited” form of medical marijuana. That is the tragic fallacy central to medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.