Florida Lawmaker Works to Increase Medical Cannabis Access

A Democratic lawmaker in Florida wants medical cannabis patients in the state to have easier access to the treatment.

That is one of the goals behind a bill being introduced by state House Representative Andrew Learned as Florida’s legislative session opened on Tuesday.

Learned’s proposal, House Bill 679, “would change Florida’s medical cannabis program, offering several technical clarifications,” local television station WFTS explained.

Among those changes, the bill “would reduce costs for people by requiring fewer doctor’s visits, allow patients to keep their registration cards for two years instead of one and give people the option to use telehealth to refill their prescriptions,” according to WFTS.

Moreover, the bill would implement regulations on the sale of Delta-8, the hemp extract that is known to yield a similar high to cannabis with Delta-9 THC and that has become ubiquitous in the years since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which effectively legalized hemp on the federal level. 

Learned told the station that “the first thing to understand about [the bill] is this is the first bipartisan marijuana package we’ve really run as a state in five years since the constitutional amendment passed.” 

“Just getting both sides to agree on a way forward, I count this as a win already,” Learned said.

“This does things like, again, like keeping harmful products out of the hands of children, it’s making sure that we clean up advertising statues so we aren’t inadvertently advertising medical marijuana products in general to minors,” Learned continued. “It’s improving the program from a practical use perspective like I said with telehealth but also things like DUI testing and creating testing councils for that. Making sure products are safe and that a hemp product for example, like a CBD really is a CBD. Right now there’s no testing requirement pre-sale.”

Learned said that the bill will provide needed regulation for the burgeoning CBD industry.

“It’s still legal; we’re just changing some definitions and making sure the product is safe and tested, and we’re also limiting them to the sale of over 21. Right now, there’s no age limit so children can buy this stuff,” he told WFTS.

Florida voters passed a measure to legalize medical cannabis in 2016. Two years ago, the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that ended the ban on smokable medical cannabis products.

In October, an administrative judge in Florida ordered a requirement from the state health department to ban services like Leafly, which patients had used to order medical cannabis online.

The Florida Department of Health had said that “the services were prohibited under a 2017 law that set up a structure for the Florida cannabis industry,” according to a local news report at the time, but the judge found that “the ban on the use of the third-party sites amounted to an unadopted rule and ordered the state agency to ‘immediately discontinue reliance on its policy regarding online ordering of medical marijuana through third-party websites.’”

Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the Sunshine State, though there have been growing calls from both activists and prominent politicians there to change that.

Legalization figures to be a significant issue in Florida’s governor’s race, with Democratic hopefuls currently trying to outflank one another on the issue.

“Let me be clear: If I’m elected governor, I will legalize cannabis in the Sunshine State,” Charlie Crist, the former governor and current congressman vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said in October. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida.”

Crist is contending with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for the Democratic nomination, and the right to face Crist in the general election. 

After Crist’s pledge in October, Fried called him out on his previous positions when he was governor and still a member of the Republican party.

“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried said on Twitter at the time. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”

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Wonderland: Miami Takes Shape as the Largest Psychedelic Medicine Business Event

On November 8 and 9, Miami, Florida will host Wonderland: Miami, the largest-ever business gathering in the psychedelic medicine sector, presented by Microdose, a guide to the business of psychedelics. Wonderland: Miami will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Miami, Florida.

Wonderland: Miami features 30 programming tracks, panels, fireside chats, networking, a Dragon’s Den style pitch competition and insights from speakers such as Rick Doblin, Ph.D, Founder and Executive Director of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), who will share insights, information and experiences.

Also speaking will be Robin Carhart-Harris, a psychologist and neuroscientist and Head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research, Division of Brain Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.Carhart-Harris coordinated the first clinical study of psilocybin in the UK and the first clinical study of a classic psychedelic drug in the UK for over 40 years. He’ll be joined by Dr. Joseph Tucker, CEO of what is now Enveric, an innovative biotechnology company developing a next-generation mental health and oncology treatment clinical discovery platform, leveraging psychedelic-derived molecules for the mind and synthetic cannabinoids for the body.

Sports icons, including Mike Tyson, Lamar Odom and Anna Symonds will be in attendance to share their stories. In addition, Kelsey Ramsden, CEO of MINDCURE, and Lynn Marie Morski, President of the Psychedelic Medicine Association will also discuss topics including the treatment of mental health, addiction and pain challenges in the psychedelic medicine landscape.

‘’I believe if I’d been introduced to the benefit of psychedelics for therapeutic use early in my professional career, I may not have encountered as much anxiety or depression,” said Mike Tyson, who now serves as an advisor for Wesana Health. “I’m excited to be speaking among the most talented researchers, scientists and minds such as Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Prof. David Nutt, Dr. Ben Sessa, Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D, Rick Doblin, Ph.D. at Wonderland: Miami. Events like Wonderland: Miami are immensely important in helping improve mental health by showing people how life-altering experiences with psychedelic medicines can be.’’  

Wonderland: Miami is supported by companies including Numinus, Mindset Pharma, Wesana Health, The Conscious Fund, Nushama, Braxia Scientific, Awakn Life Sciences, Levitee Labs, Negev Capital, Ambria Capital, MINDCURE, KGK Science, Psychedelic Water, Zuber Lawler, IMIO Life Ltd, Cybin, MNP LLP, Iter Investments, Ibogacine, Tryp Therapeutics, Psychedelic Invest, Entheo Digital and Maya Health. 

Perhaps due to the growth potential of the psychedelic medicine market, there is a growing list of psychedelic medicine companies listed on the NASDAQ. The companies are also receiving heightened investor focus from high profile investors such as Peter Thiel, and Wonderland has attracted a top cohort of financiers including one of the leading franchises in the psychedelics sector—H.C. Wainwright & Co., LLC., as a headliner and Official Banking Sponsor. 

“We are delighted to be supporting Microdose in this industry-leading event and to be a part of their mission to increase visibility for this growing and important sector,” said David Dinkin, Investment Banking, H.C. Wainwright & Co., LLC.

The show will attract scientists from Johns Hopkins, UCSF, Imperial College London, as well as  leading financiers, innovators and CEOs, discussing the fastest growing sector in medicine. With almost a thousand new psychedelic clinics in the U.S., and an explosion of investor interest across Florida, the Wonderland conference could not be more timely.

Wonderland: Miami is takes place November 8-9, 2021 in Miami, Florida at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Inc. 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33132. For more information, please visit microdose.buzz/wonderland

Psychedelic reform is happening everywhere—at the local and state levels.

Psychedelics are in the spotlight thanks to people like Gwyneth Paltrow, Matthew McConaughey and series such as 9 Perfect Strangers on Netflix. A number of public figures opened up recently about the potential of psychedelic medicine, including Elon Musk, Will Smith and Andrew Yang, who advocated for veteran psychedelic use in New York City.

Studies roll out every day, touting the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapies including psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA and more. A number of investigations are looking at how psychedelics can help to “reset” negative patterns in the brain—such as addiction or depression.

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Florida to Resume Online Purchasing of Cannabis Products

A ruling handed down on Monday by an administrative law judge in Florida means that medical cannabis patients in the Sunshine State will soon be able to resume purchasing such products online. 

The decision from Judge Suzanne Van Wyk comes after state regulators in Florida had brought an end to patients using online services such as Leafly, which contracted with medical cannabis providers in the state to help patients complete their orders digitally.

According to local television station CBS12, state officials said “the arrangements violated a state law banning operators from contracting for services ‘directly related to the cultivation, processing and dispensing’ of cannabis.”

Those third-party, online companies saw Florida-based medical marijuana operators sever ties after the state’s Department of Health admonished them and threatened a $500,000 fine if the practice persisted.

CBS12 reported that the Department of Health handed down a memo saying that “the services were prohibited under a 2017 law that set up a structure for the Florida cannabis industry,” and that the law “requires medical marijuana operators to control all aspects of the business from seed to sale — including cultivation, processing and dispensing of products — rather than allowing companies to handle individual components of the trade.”

But Leafly, the station reported, “argued that it is not engaging in activity related to the dispensing of cannabis products because the company does not accept payment for or distribute cannabis products to patients,” and the company “filed a petition asking an administrative law judge to find that the Florida Department of Health employed an ‘unadopted and invalid rule’ to conclude that the online services violated the law.”

According to the station, Leafly had contracted with 277 medical marijuana retailers in Florida. 

Judge Van Wyk “didn’t go as far Monday as Leafly requested,” according to CBS12, “but she found that the ban on the use of the third-party sites amounted to an unadopted rule and ordered the state agency to ‘immediately discontinue reliance on its policy regarding online ordering of medical marijuana through third-party websites.’”

Online orders and curbside pickups have become commonplace for cannabis operators since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with policymakers in various states and cities relaxing restrictions in order to allow patients to acquire their products safely.

Last year, officials in Florida set forth emergency rules to allow physicians in the state to visit patients and issue prescriptions remotely, an option that was also extended to medical cannabis patients.

Voters in Florida passed a ballot measure in 2016 that legalized medical marijuana treatment, and the law has broadened its scope in the years that have followed.

Last year, the Florida Department of Health announced new rules that allowed medical cannabis patients to acquire edible products such as brownies and other candies.

In 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a bill allowing medical cannabis patients to receive the treatment in smokable form.

Efforts to legalized recreational pot use in Florida have yet to materialize—though there are clear signs of budding political support. 

Democrats currently vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in Florida have even traded barbs recently over who is more determined to end pot prohibition.

Charlie Crist, a former governor in the state who is currently serving in Congress and vying to be governor again, said earlier this month that he will “legalize marijuana in the Sunshine State” if he were elected next year.

“This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida,” said Crist, who previously served as a Republican governor before leaving the party.

That drew a strong response from Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner who is also aiming to win the Democratic nomination for governor and was quick to note Crist’s previous enforcement of anti-pot laws.

“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried said on Twitter earlier this month. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”

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Democratic Candidates for Florida Governor Vow to Legalize Marijuana

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate and congressman Representative Charlie Crist announced on Thursday that he will legalize marijuana and expunge past cannabis-related convictions if he is elected governor. The statement drew a swift response from fellow Democratic candidate and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, however, who chided Crist for his past support of cannabis prohibition.

At an appearance at the state capitol in Tallahassee, Crist, who served as Florida’s governor as a Republican from 2007 to 2011, said that he would legalize marijuana if voters elect him to the office again next year. He also vowed to expunge convictions for cannabis-related misdemeanors and third-degree felonies.

“Let me be clear: If I’m elected governor, I will legalize marijuana in the Sunshine State,” Crist said in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida.”

Crist also said on Thursday that under his legalization proposal, taxes from sales of regulated marijuana would be used to fund law enforcement agencies, more teachers for the state’s schools and drug diversion and treatment programs. The plan also supports allowing home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants and reforming the state’s current marijuana industry by decentralizing it and making it more accessible to farmers who are people of color. 

But Crist has been a late adopter of cannabis policy reform. While serving as Florida’s Republican governor, Crist signed legislation to make cultivation of 25 or more cannabis plants a second-degree felony, lowering the threshold from 300. In 2008, he said that he approved of Florida’s harsh drug laws and opposed efforts at reform.

After leaving the Florida governor’s mansion, Crist announced in 2012 that he had joined the Democratic Party. In 2014, he secured the Democratic nomination for governor but was defeated in the general election. He then ran for the U.S. House, where he has served as the representative for Florida’s 13th Congressional District since 2016. 

He has since voiced public support for cannabis reform and last year voted in favor of the MORE Act, a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level that later died in the U.S. Senate.

“We know that people across racial and income levels use marijuana at the same rate. And yet, for decades, it’s been poor, Black and/or Hispanic folks targeted for prison on marijuana charges,” Crist said in a December statement in support of the MORE Act. “That tells me that marijuana has been legal now for a while if you had the right skin tone or the right paycheck.”


Democratic Crist Has Changed His Mind on Cannabis

After Crist made his announcement in support of cannabis reform, Fried, his opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor, called attention to Crist’s record on marijuana as governor.

Fried has long been a supporter of cannabis legalization and announced earlier this year that she is a registered Florida medical marijuana patient. She has also worked as a lobbyist for the cannabis industry and is an investor in a licensed medical marijuana treatment center in the state, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”

Drew Godinich, a spokesperson for the Fried for Governor campaign, also attacked Crist’s record on cannabis reform.

“Floridians deserve a new generation of leaders who will reform our broken criminal justice system and for a consistent, just marijuana policy,” Godinich wrote in a tweet.

“That’s what Nikki Fried has done as Agricultural Commissioner, and that’s what she’ll continue to do as Governor. Charlie now says he is [in] favor of reform—but has nothing to say for his record of decades in Tallahassee where he consistently favored harsh laws to punish Floridians. We need change, now.”

In his statement on Thursday, Crist acknowledged that, like many people, his stance on marijuana has changed over time. 

“And for me, it’s personal,” Crist said. “I lost an older sister. She had brain cancer several years ago. And I think about Margaret, and I think about how it wouldn’t have been as painful for her perhaps if marijuana had been legalized and the stigma taken off of it.”

Crist’s proposal to legalize marijuana is part of his four-point “Justice for All” plan to reform the state’s justice system, which he says has disproportionately impacted non-white Floridians. He also supports a sentencing reform plan, restoring voting rights to those with nonviolent felony convictions and legislation to give inmates rehabilitation credit for taking educational and life-skills classes.

The winner of the Democratic nomination for Florida governor will face current Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in next year’s general election. DeSantis is opposed to cannabis reform and said, “Not while I’m governor” when asked about marijuana legalization in 2019.

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Florida Advocacy Petition Drive Aims to Allow Home Growing of Cannabis

A political action committee in Florida is spearheading a petition drive to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in the state, after two previous legalization efforts this year were stymied by the courts. 

Sensible Florida PAC announced on Friday that it was kicking off “a new petition drive for a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that will permit adults 21 and older to grow and use marijuana.”

The group said it has initiated “an aggressive campaign” in order to get the proposal on next year’s ballot. 

The timing of the petition drive may strike some as unusual, and the prospects of qualifying for the 2022 ballot might seem dim.

Cannabis Progress Previously Halted in Florida

In June, a different constitutional amendment proposed by Sensible Florida was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court. A majority of the justices took issue with the proposed amendment’s language, particularly the portion that said marijuana would be legalized “for limited use and growing by persons 21 years of age or older,” saying it was “misleading.”

“As an initial matter, the initiative’s ‘age limit’ is clearly not the “limited use” contemplated by the ballot summary,” the majority opinion said. “Indeed, the summary tells voters that the measure will regulate marijuana ‘for limited use… by persons 21 years of age or older.’ The summary thus informs voters that the initiative imposes use limitations on age-eligible persons, not that the age limitation is itself a ‘use’ limitation. 

“Secondly, ‘use’ cannot be synonymous with ‘possession,’ ‘growing,’ or ‘gifting.’ Indeed, the initiative separately addresses those activities… The Sponsor’s inability to point to anything in the text of the measure that could credibly support the ‘limited use’ language in the summary leaves no doubt that the summary is affirmatively misleading.”

“We conclude that the language in the ballot summary indicating that the proposed amendment “regulates marijuana … for limited use … by persons 21 years of age or older” is affirmatively misleading and fails to comply with section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes,” the opinion continued. “Accordingly, the proposed amendment should not be placed on the ballot.”

Sensible Florida said at the time that it would go back to the drawing board and offer up a new amendment with the intention of qualifying for next year’s ballot. But for legalization advocates in the Sunshine State, the June ruling by the state Supreme Court was all too familiar. In April, the court struck down a different ballot measure that aimed to legalize recreational pot use in the state, saying that proposal’s language was also misleading.

In that decision, the court specifically took issue with the notion that the measure would not change federal law against marijuana.

“A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law,” Chief Justice Charles Canady wrote. “A ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.”

The challenges to each proposal were backed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican. 

“We thank the Florida Supreme Court for their time and attention to this issue and respect their ruling,” a Moody spokesperson said after the state Supreme Court’s ruling in April. “Floridians must fully understand what they are voting on when they go to the ballot box.”

Other Florida politicians were upset by the decisions. Congressman Charlie Crist, who previously served as governor of the state, lamented June’s ruling and laid blame on Florida’s current governor, Republican Ron DeSantis.

“The Florida Supreme Court that @GovRonDeSantis packed with partisan judges just denied another ballot initiative to let Floridians vote on legalizing marijuana. This is wrong. Legalization should be up to the people of Florida,” Crist tweeted at the time.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Advocates Float New Strategy To Pass Marijuana Legalization In Senate With Democratic Support In Question (Marijuana Moment)

// Montana House Revives Bill To Implement Marijuana Legalization After First Defeating It (Marijuana Moment (Daily Montanan))

// Drug Possession To Be A Misdemeanor- For Now- Under Washington State Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk (Marijuana Moment)

These headlines are brought to you by Cova Software, the number one dispensary point-of-sale system in North America! Swing over today to see why two thirds of all Canadian cannabis stores run on Cova software, which is also the fastest growing dispensary software in the U.S., with more than a hundred new client dispensaries open for business in January alone!

// These states could still legalize recreational or medical cannabis in 2021 (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Pennsylvania Marijuana Poll Shows Highest-Ever Support For Legalization (Marijuana Moment)

// Harborside Q4 Net Revenue Increases 11% to $12.6 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Auxly Revenue Keeps Rising But Losses Remain (Green Market Report)

// After hitting record numbers during the pandemic’s peak new medical marijuana patients are surging again in Florida (Yahoo News (South Florida Sun-Sentinel))

// Peoples-Stokes hosts Buffalo marijuana expungement clinic (WGRZ 2 NBC)

// New York’s Native American communities eye recreational cannabis (Marijuana Business Daily)

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