Politics

As Medical Marijuana Moves to the House, 'Amazing' Senators Give Families Hope

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: April 29, 2014 3:55 AM
Medical marijuana

In a pathbreaking 36-3 vote Monday, the Florida Senate passed a bill that would allow severely epileptic children to seek relief legally by ingesting nonsmokable, low-THC medical marijuana.

Families watching in the gallery held hands, wept quietly or hugged. Some cheered after the lopsided vote.

It was a scene few might have imagined a couple of months ago.

"I never thought this day would come," Janet Carson, Melbourne mother of 10-year-old Ryan, told Sunshine State News as she wiped away tears. Ryan's seizures are so frequent and sometimes so severe he wears a hockey helmet when he's not in bed. "There's nothing left for us to try," she said. "Ryan has about 20 seizures a day. ... These amazing senators have actually given me hope."

RayAnn Mosely, perhaps the best known child to visit the Legislature this session, was on hand with her mom Holley, watching the proceedings with joy and relief. RayAnn, 11, suffers from cerebral palsy and intractable epilepsy. Afterward, she awarded the three bill sponsors hand-drawn pictures of a bright yellow sun against a blue background, with the words "Ray of Hope."

Meanwhile, the co-sponsors of the companion House bill, Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, watched the Senate floor SB 1030 discussion closely and nervously.
 
"Never in a million years would I have thought I'd see such overwhelming support in the Florida Senate for a bill that provides research for, and access to, medical cannabis," Edwards said when it was over. "I'm very proud of our senators who voted for this. It's my earnest hope that we can make sure this effort doesn't leave out cancer patients and those with neurological damage."

Following the Senate vote, the bill was certified in the Rules Committee -- after which Matt Gaetz filed a House amendment to CS/CS/SB 1030.

Gaetz summed up his amendment like this: "More ailments will be covered and physicians will be protected with an informed consent provision." (Read the complete 14-page amendment in the attachment below.)

He said, "I have no doubt the governor will sign any non-euphoric cannabis bill we send him."

The House is due to take up the bill and the amendment Tuesday.

One of SB 1030's three sponsors, Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said it didn't matter how much he personally opposes legalizing marijuana, he was 100 percent committed to helping "the desperate parents" of 125,000 children who have tried everything else.

"Any law that defines them as criminals defies common sense," he said.

Bill co-sponsor Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, explained to senators again that the plant, developed in its mild form known as Charlotte's Web, is administered as an oil-based extract and placed under the child’s tongue, and when that happens, seizures "go away."

He said, "If it were your kid, what would you do? ... You'd go to the ends of the world to make sure your kid could get a fighting chance."

“In Colorado we’ve seen the number of seizures per month go from 400 to 300, to three or four or two, or in some cases zero,” Bean said. “Let’s bring that hope to Florida.”

Perhaps the most opposition came from Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, who asked the Senate to kill the bill off then and there. He said such a measure needs to fall under the control of the Food and Drug Administration.

"We need to stick to good science," he said, "... take an approach that is proven."

Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, also voted "no."

Though the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association support the Senate bill, the governor is hoping the one that reaches his desk will include clinical trials and the auspices of the FDA.

Florida voters will cast ballots in November on a constitutional amendment that would legalize all forms of medical marijuana. It requires 60 percent of the vote to become law.


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

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Comments (9)

Anderson
2:25PM APR 30TH 2014
amazing?!?! what a joke....we are so far behind in Tallahassee its a wonder as to how these elected officials made it there in the first place, oh yea heavily funded campaigns...so repubs are against big govt...but they love big corporations, and apparently want this industry to be dominated by only the super wealthy and connected corporations as indicated by their language and proposed amendments to this bill. red tape and bureaucracy all the way with this bill. don't get me wrong I am thrilled that this made it thru for those suffering with intractable seizures. but it made it thru for the wrong reasons. its a super conservative bill that is attempted to set framework for amendment 2 that is a republican legislators nightmare. this is their effort to curb that constitutional amendment and turn florida medical marijuana into new jersey, where those needing this treatment have so many blocks to accessing it that less than 500 have received patient cards. Florida legislators are also apparently physicians, as they know what type of cannabis is needed and for what illnesses or diseases. so sad that florida legislators wont look at how medical marijuana was regulated in Colorado or if they are or claim they are they are definitely not giving it much credit. Florida's DOH estimates over 250,000 people that have debilitating diseases that would qualify under proposed amendment 2. so we are going to ignore those, but say its ok for children with epilepsy....how backwards are we? and to say leave it to the FDA first...are you serious?!? isn't that contradictory to passing low-thc vs. reg. medical marijuana, is there so much more research on low-thc vs. reg.?! how many foods/drinks/drugs has the FDA approved that has known adverse implications to humans! Or has even directly caused death! how many previously FDA approved drugs have been shown to directly cause death and then yanked from the shelves or faced class action lawsuits?! why do these drugs get the FDA stamp from big pharm? Money, money, money, connections, and money. Of course this isn't a blanket for all or even for most. but put it up next to a plant. a plant. a plant that grows on earth. that isn't manufactured in a lab. that doesn't kill people. leave it to the consumer, leave it to the patients, leave it to the families to decide what meds they want to use, what food, drink and drugs they want to consume if it isn't causing harm to others. for politicians to say what is and isn't toxic, what is and isn't morally right or wrong, for politicians to stifle small businesses and to effectively have an entire industry controlled by 4 organizations is so wrong on so many levels and epitomizes the problem we have in Tallahassee. this "do as I say" mentality has got to change if we don't want to be a laughing stock. We want to let people walk around with unlicensed weapons during states of emergency, we want to be able to kill people by "standing our ground" but we want to thwart medical treatment of an innocuous drug. what a joke. nearly half of the states have approved med marijuana but here comes Florida saying "wait, no, more research, we're not ready, the people don't know whats good for them!!!!" Read between the lines folks, this conservative bill isn't any indication of passion, its an attempt to curb what is coming in November. What I don't understand is why are they sooooo terrified? aren't there much larger problems in this state? I guess their answer to that is to grab as many guns as possible, lol. In all seriousness though, more needs to be done for the over quarter million that suffer from debilitating conditions that simply will not be helped by low-thc oil form cannabis. get off your butts and take a look at the other bills that have been sitting on the shelves since February (SB0962 and HB0859) and have them reviewed in the subcommittees. why haven't they been read?! I guess cancer, HIV, Parkinson's, etc. aren't as significant as epilepsy...
Scott Nations RN
8:32PM APR 29TH 2014
What are the regulations for providing this looking like? I would like to be involved in helping these kids.
BossIlluminati
4:28PM APR 29TH 2014
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

"amazing"?, lol, i wouldn't call leaders decades behind us amazing, far from it

"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, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...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 and 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

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33
KathyD
3:45PM APR 29TH 2014
Since smoking is your major concern let me start there. The absolute best purpose for smoking cannabis is as an expectorant. For those who are allergic to guaifenesin, the expectorant used in most cough and cold medications, it can be a life saver. It can be the difference between suffocating on ones own mucus and coughing it out and opening the breathing airways. It can prevent pneumonia by allowing the mucus to be coughed out.
The other main reasons for smoking are almost instant relief and titration. If one is vomiting, eating is not always possible. Waiting 40 minutes to an hour or longer for something eaten to work doesn’t usually work when vomiting is involved because what was eaten usually gets thrown up, so a few puffs to stop the vomiting can be the best solution for the patient at the time.

For many patients a small amount is all they need. Parkinson’s patients report it takes 1 - 4 puffs generally to stop the tremors. By smoking it provides the relief almost instantly. They can titrate, use what they need, 1 puff at a time. You can’t do that so easily when eating something that takes 40 minutes to over an hour to work. Why should an elderly Parkinson’s patient or anyone with ailment that cause tremors or spasms, or vomiting have to wait for relief when it could be instantly?

Consuming cannabis by eating food infused with cannabis extracts such as cannabis butter or oil is a very safe way to medicate. It bypasses the hypothalamus, a plus for many patients, for others it helps but does not provide as complete of a relief. Patients learn what works best for them and their own endocanninoid system.

Topical use if effective for such a wide variety of issues, as discussed anti-biotic, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, but also for pain, inflammation, gout, skin care, even skin cancer. There are 2 main different types of cannabis oil, one is for cooking, baking and food the other, is often called RSO or Rick Simpson Oil named so after the man who rediscovered it and has been educating the world about it. RSO is made different and kills cancer in several ways. While even the cooking/baking oil can be helpful for pain it take the RSO oil topically to kill skin cancer. For an internal cancer one needs to consume the RSO to kill the cancer, smoking it won’t work, you need a far higher dose than that.

The following effects of cannabis is how it kills cancer Anti-Proliferative - prevents cells from reproducing, Anti-Angiogenic - prevents formation of new blood vessels needed by tumor to grow, Anti-Metastatic - prevents cancer from spreading to other organs, Apoptotic - induces cell to seek it’s own death.
KathyD
3:41PM APR 29TH 2014
While we thank the legislature for helping the children, the other 1.6 million patients continue to suffer, live in fear of arrest if they use the medicine, and are considered a sub-culture for their need of a safe effective medicine. End the pharmaceutical chemical slavery NOW. Cannabis should be legal to grow in every backyard on the planet. The making of crimes out of health matters has proven a dismal reckless failure. Scientific studies have proven Cannabis has medical value, is safe and effective for many health ailments. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system and evidence of health benefits consuming cannabis raw, which has no psychoactive properties, should leave cannabis as a dietary food. Cannabis is one of the original medicines and still safer than pharmaceutical chemicals which kill people daily and have every day in the 100 years they have been used.

Topical use of a cannabis liniment spray stops the pain gallstones, bone spurs, nerve damage, gout, sprains, arthritis. Just a few sprays, NO HIGH, NO PAIN, just pure relief. That would prevent a lot of addictions to pain pills. Topical use of cannabis butter is the best pain relief available on the planet. It is effective for nerve damage from injuries, broken bones, injured knees, and amazingly even gallstone pain as I recently learned from experience.

But the current High CBD low THC legislation will not allow that. Imagine how many cases of drug addiction could be prevented. They called themselves an activist legislative body and progressive. Who do they think they are fooling? If they had passed the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, yes they could make that claim. Their baby crawl, not a step in no way makes them progressive or an activist body, it shows their fear to accept what it coming.

Cannabis has been medicine for thousand of years, it has only not been a medicine in this nation for the last 75 years. It was legislation, not the FDA that made cannabis illegal and legislators that need to fix the error made created due to lies, prejudices, and greed in 1937. While I am thrilled they are doing something to help the children, what about those that have suffered for many years? How many more years do we need to suffer? Don't we matter too? What if it were your child, what if it were you??????

The Senate Bill also limits the use to strictly seizure patients or muscle spasms. They do not allow for further use of it, even if the ultimate proof came that high CBD low THC cured cancer, or anything else. There can be no changes without further legislation next year.
Scott
1:28PM APR 29TH 2014
It's sad to see the way the false premise of this is prevailing in popular debate. No critical thinking. As if only marijuana is the treatment for the 'side effects' of a childhood disease....

In Colorado, before legalization, it was prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome, same logic.

I hope Florida will not capitulate to this. But insist on careful study of the science which will show:

1) the medical benefits are being exaggerated,
2) the medical benefits are being misrepresented
3) this is not a unique remedy,
4) there are harmful side effects
5) this is intended to produce more acceptance of the illegal drug culture
6) AND their societal consequences, including harming children.

Many of the most strident supporters of this have given their lives and substance over to the drug culture and the idolatrous attitude and lifestyle it represents.

It is very sad to see our culture deteriorate.

And to see otherwise good media succumb to promotion of it.
Dean
5:06PM APR 29TH 2014
You are just so wrong, in so many ways. Please try doing some actual research instead of the old marijuana madness nonsense.
Dean
8:54AM APR 29TH 2014
I do hope this bill passes into law. I am also disgusted that thousands that would be helped with high THC Medical Marijuana are not only left out, but remain criminals. Further, even this historic bill has been twisted for partisan political purposes. Despite high approval poll results lawmakers again refused to consider the Kathy Jordan Medical Marijuana Act. Shame on them! Many subjects with much less approval have recieved attention. The partisan politics has and will harm Floridians. I ask that everyone go out in November and vote YES on Amendment 2 and make Medical Marijuana legal for every patient that will be helped by this amazing plant. Thank You all!
LDouglas
8:27AM APR 29TH 2014
Take an approach that is proven? LOL That's the opposite of what he did. Any lawmaker who thinks all our medicine has to be approved by the FDA needs to go do something else for a living.

Proven by the FDA brought us Vioxx that killed 60,000 people before it was taken off the market. Proven by the FDA is what brought us a bunch of others that have also been taken off the market after they killed or maimed. Proven by the FDA to this day still has drugs that will kill or maim.

Seriously, Sen. Thad Altman can't have done any research or he would know that. He would also know there is no guarantee the FDA process provides us with proof other than any given medicine works better in more instances than a placebo. Meanwhile, the proof that Charlotte's Web works stood right in front of him.

He should go lobby for the pharmaceutical industry- if he isn't already.

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