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Bill Day’s latest: Charlotte’s Web and the political snake pit

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

To bring much-needed pain relief to Floridians who suffer from a variety of ailments, medical marijuana supporters must first navigate a “snake pit” of state politics, according to today’s Bill Day editorial cartoon.

Hopefully, Florida citizens will not be the ones to get bit.

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, signed by Gov. Rick Scott last June, calls for the creation of a state framework to provide medically needy patients with a strain of marijuana – known as Charlotte’s Web. Extract of Charlotte’s Web is both high in cannabidiol, or CBD, and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that produces a high.

The strain of medical marijuana, supporters say, reduces seizures in children suffering from a rare form of epilepsy.

Nearly a year later, through legal wrangling, political conflict and rule-making moving at a snail’s pace, epileptic children are yet to have access to the medicinal cannabis extract that can calm potentially fatal seizures.

Adding to the woes this week are legal challenges filed over the Florida Department of Health rules coming out of a negotiated and protracted rule-making process.

As reported on Florida Politics Tuesday, attorneys for both the Medical Cannabis Trade Association, a Delaware corporation, and Masters Growers of Sanford argue against  the state’s suggested process of awarding licenses -– a lottery — and the requirements necessary for supplying medical marijuana to qualified patients. Both groups call the rules overly broad, arbitrary and unreliable.

Back in Day’s political snake pit, state lawmakers have stepped in to attempt to untangle the mess that is now Charlotte’s Web law.  State Sen. Rob Bradley, an Orange Park Republican, filed a measure aimed at removing the obstacles, and the Senate Regulated Industries Committee is taking up the matter this week. Bradley was one of the names behind last year’s Senate Bill 1030, the heart of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.

Snakes are nothing if not unpredictable, so whether Tallahassee can hammer out a solution remains to be seen. Meanwhile, thousands of Floridians anxiously wait for relief from pain.

And they may have to wait a little while longer.

BILL DAY CHARLOTTE'S WEB

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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