DOH updates on Office of Compassionate Use, public input requested

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Medicinal marijuana advocates Wednesday will get a rare opportunity to question the Secretary of the Department of Health.  John Armstrong will chair a public meeting of the Statewide Drug Advisory Council and marijuana is on the agenda.

Kevin Bist is scheduled to deliver an update on the Office of Compassionate Use.

The law creating the Office also directed DOH to have a regulatory framework in place by Jan. 1, 2015  for the growing of marijuana and the processing and dispensing oil from the plant to treat seizure patients. That deadline will be missed.

Armstrong had testified against SB 1030 in legislative committee meetings. Lawmakers passed the measure authorizing five licenses to start providing a medicinal cannabis product for an estimated 125,000 children suffering from severe epilepsy and other patients with  muscular diseases and cancer.

An administrative law judge threw out proposed regulations to implement the law in November. This week, maybe – we’re not sure; the first director of the Office was reassigned.

Getting information out of DOH under Armstrong is not unlike reading CIA reports leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Empire; when the Evil Empire fell people  were taken by surprise.

It took DOH 71 hours to respond to the question, “Is Linda McMullen the director of the Office of Compassionate Use?”

And given 30 days to decide whether to appeal the judge’s ruling invalidating the proposed regulations, DOH waited until 73 minutes after the deadline had passed to announce it would not appeal and had scheduled a Dec. 30 rule making workshop in Orlando.

The Drug Advisory Council agenda for Wednesday’s meeting includes a public comment period.

“I don’t know how many people know about this meeting,” said Ron Watson, who lobbies for the Florida Medical Cannabis Association and other medicinal marijuana interests.

Watson said he hopes Armstrong and DOH will provide draft language of a rule in time for the interested parties to provide “quality input” for the Dec. 30 th meeting.

The Drug Advisory Council meeting is scheduled from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Wednesday at the Betty Easley Conference Center in Tallahassee.  The public can participate by phone; the dial in number is 1/888-670-3525. The participant code is 700 265 0509.