Stunning Victory for 'Charlotte's Web' Medical Marijuana Bill in Florida House

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 1, 2014 8:00 PM
Moseley family

Peyton and Holley Moseley and their daughter, RayAnn, 11

With parents and sick children watching from the gallery, the House of Representatives resoundingly passed Florida's first medical marijuana bill in a 111-7 vote. The amended bill returns to the Senate Friday, last day of the session, for final approval.

The hope is that CS/CS/SB 1030 will bring relief to 125,000 children in Florida who suffer seizures from intractable epilepsy. The limited strain of unsmokable marijuana does not produce a "high."

Changes in the bill from the Senate version, added by House sponsor Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and co-sponsor Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, include an expansion of medical conditions to which low-THC, unsmokable marijuana can apply -- cancer and chronic neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy and Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Going into the near two-hour discussion, the bill encountered a strong challenge from Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart. Harrell introduced an amendment that virtually rewrote the bill.

She said she wanted a bill that would help children with intractable epilepsy but it should be "done correctly" -- involving the Food and Drug Administration, clinical trials, steps along the way to approval new drugs necessarily take.

Her amendment failed.

Several House members rose to speak in debate. Among them --

-- Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville: "I changed my mind three times today, but I'm voting for it,"

-- Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala: "You are a warrior, Rep. Gaetz ... but this could be the shot that sets off the avalanche and I can't pull the trigger."

-- Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto: "Florida will show the whole nation we care."

-- Katie Edwards, D-Plantation: "Vote yes ... Light up this board green! No pun intended."

-- Matt Gaetz, looking up into the gallery: "We would not be here without the love of these parents ... It's a special kind of love that these children instill in us."

The bill includes $1 million in nonrecurring general revenue appropriated to the Department of Health for the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program. It is targeted entirely to be used for research of cannabidiol and its effect on intractable childhood epilepsy.

Gov. Rick Scott isn't entirely happy with the bill because, like Harrell, he prefers to see the program under FDA auspices. But he hasn't threatened to use his veto.

Nevertheless, in his bill closing, Gaetz spoke to families in the gallery: “Get eyeball-to-eyeball with (the governor) and move his heart the way you’ve moved ours.”

Families waiting for drug left the gallery with broad smiles.

"This is the first time I got really emotional," said Holley Moseley, comforting 11-year-old daughter RayAnn in a wheelchair beside her. "RayAnn had a number of back-to-back seizures while we were watching today," she said. "I can't believe we're finally going to be able to get a treatment that has worked so well for children with intractable epilepsy."

Rebecca Walters, from Molino near Pensacola, wheeled out son Joshua, 16, and talked about the relief she felt after the vote.

"Josh has Dravet's syndrome. He's been on 10 different seizure medicines and none have helped," she said. "My husband has family in Colorado and if the Legislature had turned us down, we would have moved to Colorado. Charlotte's Web is Josh's last chance," Walters said. "We've already taken a partial of his left temporal lobe out -- his liver had started failing."

Kim Dillard of Pensacola, in the gallery with 15-year-old son Daniel, said, "We are so glad our Legislature has come together on this historical issue."

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

Comments (7)

3:04PM MAY 2ND 2014
Republican move of desperation,,,,,,,hypocrites
6:38AM MAY 2ND 2014
"Josh has Dravet's syndrome. He's been on 10 different seizure medicines and none have helped," she said."
"We've already taken a partial of his left temporal lobe out -- his liver had started failing."

Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala and Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart heard that testimony and still thought making those families wait for a drug that has gone through the FDA approval process is a better way to go?

IMO, it defies compassion to such a degree that I am almost dumbfounded. The cynic in me would love to see how much money they have invested in pharmaceutical corporations.
9:35PM MAY 1ST 2014
I am glad this bill is on track to pass and may well be signed into law by the Govenor. Unfortunatly. it leaves out thousands that will be helped by the high THC varieties. That is a shame since it shows that the politicians, and some voters are hypocrits. How can any Republican, Libaterian or T'Party member who supported the fight against obamacare, where 1 of their reasons was that they do not want goverment involved in their healthcare, then say that it is OK for Florida to get involved in anybody elses healthcare. If you are against Medical Marijuana that is exactly what you are saying. That it is OK for the politicians in Tally to get between a Doctor and a Patient and decide what a Doctor can perscribe. Further, the excuse that it is against federal law, if you supported Bondi and Scott wasting millions fighting the ACA is un-understandable. Is it OK to fight 1 fed law and then to support upholding 1 that blocks patients from medicine that may well save or extend their life. How is it OK to lock up people for using a natural plant if they and their Doctor determine it may help. Just as any medication may help, or harm. Floridians die every day from opiate ODs, from alcohol and tobacco, which are legal, and patients get arrested, jailed and loose their civil rights, everyday, because they chose a different, far less dangerous alternative. I do not understand how anyone can be anti-obamacare and anti-medical marijuana. It seems hypocritical. I welcome well thought responses, but not petty BS. I ask that everybody goes out and votes YES on Amendment 2 in November and make all strains of Medical Marijuana legal for those patients that it will help. Thank You
Ed Vossen
12:11PM MAY 2ND 2014
I couldn't agree more with your comment. My wife has suffered from abdominal adhesions for 40 years and is in constant pain. I cannot wait for Amendment 2 to pass in November. We are counting the days.
3:28PM MAY 2ND 2014
I am too! Always great to hear from another supporter. Bsafe and God Bless
2:20PM MAY 2ND 2014
My husband's late set epilepcy is getting worse and worse with no help from any medication. If we don't get Charlette's Web Oil by end of the year we will gave no choice hut to move to Colorado....I will not wait ...fear for his life Daily.
3:25PM MAY 2ND 2014
It really looks as though this Bill will pass and Scott has said he will sign it into Law. I do hope that it helps your husband. I would expect that it would be available fairly quickly. I do ask that no matter that bill being passed into law, or not, please go out in Nov and vote YES on Amendment 2 and help to make Medical Marijuana legal for the thousands that other varieties will help. In fact, other varieties may help him now and Florida already has a Medical Marijuana defense. It is tricky and risky as far as the law goes but I do understand your concerns. Best Wishes. Bsafe and God Bless

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