Medical Marijuana and Charlotte’s Web: Don’t Rush to Judgment

By: Barney Bishop | Posted: March 31, 2014 3:55 AM
Barney Bishop

Barney Bishop

Medical marijuana and Charlotte’s Web are inextricably linked due both to politics and policy.

The politics of both is obvious: It’s an election year. More important, medical marijuana is being used by Democratic Party activists to promote the turnout in the less-than-spectacular midterm election this November, when Florida elects our next governor.

Charlotte’s Web is being used by its creators to promote its product, designed to help reduce the number of seizures an individual endures on a daily basis. From a workshop conducted earlier this legislative session, parents spoke passionately of the benefits of this particular drug.

Together, these two issues may have untold consequences for the other.

Many legislators, sheriffs, law enforcement officers, parents and citizens have great concern about the medical marijuana issue because there is little scientific evidence of its medical value other than to help nausea which is quite common in the medical procedures used today to combat a host of diseases.

Yet, this “medical” issue can also be resolved by the medical prescription for marijuana that doctors can now prescribe. But proponents claim the pill version of weed (Marinol®) is not as effective as smoking or ingesting it in brownies or some other food.

The claim of ineffectiveness of the pill versus smoking/ingesting weed is something that should be studied, documented and tested before we allow it to be legalized.

Proponents will argue that they’re not legalizing marijuana, but they really are, supposedly for the sick only. Come on, how many of us really believe that only the truly sick will get it?

Look, oxycodone, hydrocodone and other pain pills were “only” for folks with severe pain, but over the years it quickly became available to anyone who took the time to see a billboard pain clinic or a wacko doctor to get the pills. Pill mills sprouted all over South Florida and they were as ubiquitous as tattoo parlors.

Despite thousands of deaths annually, it took Florida many years to get rid of the scourge of these “pain” clinics and send them packing to Georgia and other states. Yet, here we are again setting ourselves up to replace all of the pill mills with pot shops, just like California. If you don’t think that just about anyone will be able to find a doc to write a script for “medicinal” marijuana, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

To make matters worse, because children will inevitably have medical issues that could warrant parents or caregivers providing medical weed to them, the constitutional amendment fails to address this key issue. In fact, kids will even be able to get med ganja without parental consent!

OK, so you're 72 and you had your latest hit of chemo and you want to smoke some dope to feel good again, I get it.

But, for a child to become a weed smoker because a substance-abusing parent or caregiver wants him to have it is unconscionable, regardless of the true motivation. Worst yet would be for a criminal to be a parent or caregiver and provide the dope to the child. You get the idea.

Charlotte’s Web is only slightly removed from any of the arguments above. No one in his right mind wants to deny anyone else medical procedures that will save his life or make his life bearable.

Fortunately, we have a process in this country for that and it’s called the Federal Drug Administration. The FDA is the one to regulate prescription drugs and it has a lengthy process that, more times than not, will successfully tell us if a drug has an important medical value.

And the FDA doesn't start with tests on humans; it starts with tests on rats.

So how can Florida legislators thread this needle in a rational, but compassionate way?

First, make sure that the parents and children have the opportunity to take their children to a Florida hospital that is involved in the latest federal testing of CBD, the nonintoxicating element of marijuana.

Though there are about 10 hospitals nationwide testing CBD, no hospital in Florida is a part of this federal IND, so the dollars appropriated for Charlotte’s Web should be used to entice several Florida hospitals, geographically spread around the state, to join this research project which allows “doctors of parents whose children have intractable epilepsy to obtain a pure, properly-tested and standardized CBD product.”

The foremost medical marijuana expert in the country, Dr. Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, testified four months ago before the New York Legislature.

Dr. Gitlow testified that “the scientific fact is that while there are medical components contained in marijuana, crude herbal marijuana – smoked, vaporized, eaten, etc. – is not medicine.”

His bottom line was even more succinct: Listen to scientists, not advocates.

Florida can be a part of the solution, but legalization and anecdotal evidence is not the answer. The only safe and sensible solution is to provide Charlotte’s Web in an environment where the advantages and disadvantages can be scientifically tested while still allowing parents and caregivers the choice to have access to this drug.

As for medical marijuana, “Just say No!”

Barney Bishop III, has been a lobbyist since 1979 and is CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting LLC. He is the former president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida and currently serves as the CEO of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance ( His company is a partner in the “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot Coalition,” which wants to educate the public on the negative consequences of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment. He can be emailed at

Tags: News, Columns

Comments (8)

6:13PM APR 3RD 2014
oh shut the [filtered word] up with your insane, scared, and ignorant views on medical marijauna. you people have been living in the closet your whole life, scared of what may lay beyond the door. NOTICE THE ONLY PEOPLE OPPOSING THIS ARE OLD PEOPLE, FIND A YOUNG PERSON (BORN AFTER 1975) WHO OPPOSES THIS BILL, BET YOU CANT!!! These old people still think the US is split in two (north and south) and still think black people should be slaves. Oh yea those are the same old people who didnt have problem with rascism when it was happening !
9:09PM MAR 31ST 2014
It's very effective medication for many issues. Of course there will be recreational use of it. There already is. Legalized or not people are still gonna smoke or consume it. It's easy to grow and I can think of at least 10 people off the top of my head that grow it all the time. These growers are using organic fertilizers and in some cases hydroponic methods. Whats unsafe about it is that drug cartels ship thousands of pounds into Florida every day and it is garbage, any kid can go buy this cartel crap from anywhere from school to the local street corner. The other unsafe part is that many thousands of people risk being arrested to provide this medicine for the needy and themselves. People that are in the know, and realize the major benefits it has on so many illnesses already know what to buy and what not to buy. How about doing some research on your own instead of just assuming it's gonna cause some major issue. Clearly other states have and they are profiting from it beyond belief and curing many ailments including cancers!
What about the spice epidemic that has started to blow up in Florida? If these people could smoke marijuana spice wouldn't even exist. You mention pill mills, yes they are a major problem! Those poisonous pills are highly addictive, marijuana is not addictive. Only a fool would be against ending this money wasting prohibition. And it's quite clear that Mr. Barney is a fool, or else he has some other reason for keeping this important medicine out of the hands of the people that need it. Maybe investments privatized prisons? Maybe investments in these big pharmaceutical corporations that poison children by the thousands with their ADD drugs. Alcohol is a leading cause of death, as well as tobacco, but these are advertised heavily as being "the American way". Every sporting event is loaded with commercials for alcohol and my kids see this and think it's just fine to consume this beverage, I mean come on it's all over, even family shows glorify alcohol in some cases. I think this “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot Coalition,” is a greed based organization that has their own reasons for not wanting it legal. Don't fool yourselves, it will become legal, and if not it won't much matter because people are going to use what they choose to cure themselves and their families. Get over it and quit wasting your time Mr. Barney , this is one war you will not ever win! Just say no to ignorance!
12:36PM APR 2ND 2014
Mr. Bishop, you're against legalizing marijuana, we get that. But don't sit there secure in the FDA approval process for medicine. Bring on the comparative effectiveness studies and we'll see just what FDA approval means these days.
Just look at Vioxx for one small example. FDA approved but it killed 60,000 people before being taken off the market.
Or look at acetaminophen. FDA approved without a prescription while it's said to be responsible for more than 50,000 emergency room visits, over 2500 hospitalizations, and about 450 deaths due to acute liver failure every year.
Every year more than 2 million Americans suffer from serious prescription drug reactions. According to the FDA those reactions cause about 100,000 deaths per year- that we know of. (About 16,000 a year are from prescription pain killers.) In any case, that makes FDA approved prescription drugs the fourth-leading cause of death in the country.
How many will die from marijuana taken as medicine or for recreation?

Perhaps the best way to find out is to make it legal- we'd be taking no bigger chance than we do with prescription drugs.

Anyway, at this point I will borrow from Thomas Jefferson:

"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

Worse will be if we let corporations decide what foods we eat and what medicines we take because they are driven purely by profit. (Some of those corporations are even trying to get natural supplements banned because they work so well they want to make a prescription drug out of them.)
11:32AM MAR 31ST 2014
I, for one, and right there with you Barney... until the FDA weighs in on this - herbal remedies that are federally prohibited have no place in Florida.
2:38PM MAR 31ST 2014
The federal gvmt ran a Medical Marijuana program for decades. They never published and results. The federal gvmt blocked any other research into Medical Marijuana. Then consider that it is a natural herb, same as the vitamins and supplements people take, none of which are regulated by the FDA. Why should people have to wait on any approval? Why not a safer drug than opiates? Why should gvmt be allowed to intrude into peoples lives?
Edgar Brimer
10:11AM MAR 31ST 2014
Yeah, right; so who are you gonna believe: an obvious load of recycled rhetoric, or sound medical opinion? Take the time to do your own research, Mr and Mrs Voter, and please don't be afraid to let your compassion have a say in this important decision.
Dean Franklin
8:25AM MAR 31ST 2014
Folks like Barney have prevented any testing of Medical Marijuana for decades, yet dare to then say We must wait for testing. He even pulled out the GOP Bondi-Gatez lie of claiming what the supporting laws will say, before they have even been written. Folks like Barney wrote the stupid laws in the 1st place. The lawmakers in Tally have refused to even consider Medical Marijuana until it got on the ballot. I ask that everyone Vote YES on Amendment 2. Thank You
5:16AM MAR 31ST 2014
So basically Barney, you get paid to write negative articles about medical marijuana.

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