Marijuana Treatment in Florida Charlotte's Web Law Could Face Long Delay

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: July 28, 2014 3:55 AM
Medical marijuana

Florida's new medical marijuana law might have run into an obstacle too great to help sick children as quickly as the Legislature intended or families who had urged the bill now expect.

When the second day-long workshop on the "Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014" convenes at 9 a.m. Friday, legislators, lobbyists, affected families and other interested parties are likely to discover the University of Florida, the hoped-for $1 million recipient and research component called for in the bill, is out of the mix.

Mary Ann Gosa-Hooks, director of government affairs for UF/IFAS Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, told Sunshine State News, "We've had attorneys at UF and in Washington, D.C., look at this law, and as much as we want to participate fully, UF receives hundreds of millions of dollars in student financial aid and grants for other work and we just can't risk it by going against the Drug Enforcement Agency or the Food and Drug Administration."

Research by Florida universities, particularly UF, was a prime incentive for many legislators who voted for the bill.

The bill authorizes "state universities with both medical and agricultural research programs to conduct specified research on cannabidiol and low-THC cannabis; authoriz(es) state or privately obtained research funds to be used to support such research; provid(es) an appropriation to the department for research of cannabidiol ..."

"I hope UF speaks up at the Department of Health rule-making workshop to clarify to what extent they are willing and able to participate in this," said Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

Gosa-Hooks presented a long list of hoops she says the university would have to jump through -- all obstacles legislators were trying to respect but overcome when the landmark Senate Bill 1030, nicknamed Charlotte's Web, became law. The bill Gov. Rick Scott signed June 16 legalizes the use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to treat conditions such as epilepsy, Lou Gehrig's disease and cancer. 

In a clarifying letter, Gosa-Hooks said, "The university may possess and conduct research on marijuana if the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approves a registration and the institution complies with the robust restrictions imposed by the registration."

DEA has not removed marijuana from its list of Schedule 1 drugs, in spite of the review the plant is due. 

"In order to get marijuana from the University of Mississippi," Gosa-Hooks continued, "the university would have to obtain the necessary federal permits. Obtaining the federal permits would require a research proposal, along with protocols for how the marijuana will be used in the research, how the material would be secured and disposed of.

"After permits are awarded, an application could be made to the University of Mississippi for the material specified in the research and permits," she said. The University of Mississippi is the only place where federally legal marijuana is grown.

She made it clear "the university would not be able to join with the agricultural industry in Florida to participate in, or oversee/supervise, the cultivation, manufacture or distribution of marijuana (including by growing marijuana for research, creation of seedlings or provision of plant material to others) for any purpose, including research or medical use."

Neither could the material be transferred to growers because it would have to be disposed of after the research is completed as the permits specify.

The university provided a Q&A that goes further to elaborate what it can and cannot do regarding the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. It is shown in full in the attachment at the end of this story. 

Janine Sikes, a spokesperson for the university, admitted, "To participate by the book, as we must do to comply, we probably are looking at years rather than months, but I would be afraid to guess how many."

She said, "It would be faster to talk to members of Congress to get a rule change."

Gosa-Hooks said, "Believe me, we wanted desperately to participate. It would simply be foolhardy not to protect our federal funding."

The measure approved by the Legislature allows five growing and distribution centers. Because of the last-minute amendment to the bill introduced by Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, growers must have been in operation for at least 30 years and capable of growing at least 400,000 plants. The State Department of Agriculture says 46 nurseries qualify for a license.

The last meeting caused a stir over the draft rules, with the biggest issue being a proposed lottery to award the five licenses. Linda McMullen, director of the state's Office of Compassionate Use, was working on a draft rule last week.

If all rules are hammered out -- including the combined research-cultivation-distribution component, the bill enables Florida physicians who have been authorized to order this strain of medical marijuana to start writing prescriptions Jan. 1. It will be sold through dispensaries licensed by the state Department of Health.

Said Rep. Edwards, "One thing is for certain, the federal government needs to untie the hands of researchers, growers and doctors to bring cannabis-derived therapies to Florida patients and help expedite the research and development process."

The second rules workshop -- at the Betty Easley Conference Center in the Southwood subdivision of Tallahassee -- likely will be televised on The Florida Channel, as the first one was.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.


Comments (19)

charlene vanallen
1:00PM AUG 4TH 2014
Wake up. I'm a patent of az my arthritis. pain is gone .my glucoma hasn't changed in seven years
7:00PM JUL 28TH 2014
Who are these people that set themselves up like some Micro God demanding absolute blind obedience and total subjugation, deciding what is good for everyone. I object. The D.E.A.are a group of evil authoritarian sociopaths., Completely out of control and way over the top. It is time for this group's evil grip to be released from every free thinking person on this planet. At the very least, America's asinine drug policy's should be held in check at the U.S. border. The world is fed up with these draconian drug laws and especially the enforcement methods used to criminalize and subjugate everyone.This evil group of authoritarian sociopaths are not content with enforcing law they making and manufacturing their own, I stand in objection. Please help to resist these evil people.They expect other government departments to support them
I had just discovered (by selective trial) that the JWH 018 synthetic THC was a very effective treatment for my severe case of schizophrenia with accompanying depression with dysgraphia and further, that at a higher dose,(HU 210 formula) ,that it was capable of regrowing,(via stimulation), that area of the brain where depression and the seat of the disorder lies, triggering high function. Effecting,(hopefully), a permanent cure in six months. Yet I find the D.E.A. has banned them the very week I began to seek the cure, having successfully,(with marijuana),treated the depression, and pain management from many wounds and breaks. The D.E.A. are a unnecessary evil, who are misappropriating and commandeering billions, much in the misappropriations of grant funding, intended for the well being and benefit of the American People. This abuse and theft of public funds must stop. The D.E.A. are just not needed. It is time to cut funding for these evil Authoritarian sociopaths.
1:01PM JUL 28TH 2014
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK (CBD = Can't Be Done), sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

10:21AM JUL 28TH 2014
@republican conscience Do you realize that those drug addicts who get their "legal" drug medication from medicaid ummm drive to the clinic or pharmacy and take their dose before the drive away? When have you read that a DUI was for smoking pot? More than two please post the proof of that.
10:21AM JUL 28TH 2014
@republican conscience Do you realize that those drug addicts who get their "legal" drug medication from medicaid ummm drive to the clinic or pharmacy and take their dose before the drive away? When have you read that a DUI was for smoking pot? More than two please post the proof of that.
10:21AM JUL 28TH 2014
@republican conscience Do you realize that those drug addicts who get their "legal" drug medication from medicaid ummm drive to the clinic or pharmacy and take their dose before the drive away? When have you read that a DUI was for smoking pot? More than two please post the proof of that.
8:59AM JUL 28TH 2014
I agree, you are making a bigger deal out of this than it is. How did this plant get to other states that made it legal? It just appeared ... also the Stanely Brothers are involved in Florida, they could easily, accidently bring some clones here ... oops :)

HempStaff - Florida's Medical Cannabis Staffing Company
John Browning
8:44AM JUL 28TH 2014
If UF and IFAS are involved it will be a complete cluster and take years! They and their lobbyist and administration are all incompetent and cannot get anything done!
amy cavanaugh
8:41AM JUL 28TH 2014
no suprise here-Kevin Sebat is at U of F he is the mouthpiece for prohibition
10:37AM JUL 28TH 2014
well said
8:17AM JUL 28TH 2014
Don't worry, your local illegal dope dealer will find a way to bring it in from the black market.
8:09AM JUL 28TH 2014
What else could be expected from those in Tallahassee, including Rick Scott and Republicans who are willing to provide it to someone already in hospice, but not to those who suffer through needed treatments to be able to continue living and NOT reside in hospice!
Funny that a poster here would use a title of RepublicanConscience when most of those elected Republicans place themselves so high above real people actually seem to not have a conscience at all.
VOTE YES on 2!!
8:06AM JUL 28TH 2014
But, if Florida legislation wants a pay raise, they see an increase on their next paycheck. This election vote all of them out and replace them with new legislators.
7:38AM JUL 28TH 2014
It is a shame that a law designed For the Patients got tied up in red tape by regulation happy lawmakers. It is also shameful that anti-MM folks are already using Charlottes Web as an excuse to not pass the all strains Amendment 2. Please Vote Yes on 2. For The Patients! Thank you
7:12AM JUL 28TH 2014
If a patient is so bad off that only marijuana can help, perhaps we could provide it only through Hospice care. I could support that, other-wise we cannot have pot smoking people driving on the roads. We have enough trouble with drinking and driving.
9:20AM JUL 28TH 2014
I am glad you distinguish between a Republican conscience and normal people's conscience. I feel confident in saying that by far the majority of patients who can benefit from medical MJ are not at the dying stage in need of hospice.
Hugh Yonn
7:03AM JUL 28TH 2014
Take the government out of the equation...it does not belong...
5:44AM JUL 28TH 2014
The governments weed farm was not prepared for Charlottes Web,,they have been reaising marijuana for decades but it took potreads and doctors willing to work with them to discover the use of a low THC strains and all the government has been worried about is the high THC strains.
Add it taking years for the DEA and NIDA to approve the research,,and because it is a "medical" study it would take even longer and has very little chance of being approved,,they have refused nearly every medical study applied for since NIDA was created,,and when they did approve one they ifnore it's results

A gold standard clinical was approved several years ago and the results showed that smoked marijuana was medicine that could give rlief for ain and treating MS..the study was dismissed because the government agencies "took exception" with the study,,no explanation was ever given on what their exception was but it probably had a lot to do with the fact that the DEA.NIDA depend on marijuana prohibition for most of their combined $20 billion dollar budgets.

The report on the gold standard clinical research report can be found at the NORML website.
5:54AM JUL 28TH 2014
correction:DEA/NIDA budget is appx $10 billion,not 20,,,yet.

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