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Editorial roundup: Times looks at state, Trib stays local

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As per usual – two papers, two different themes.

Tuesday’s editorial roundup in the Times vs. the Trib shows one paper’s focus on local issues and the other’s on state.

The Tampa Bay Times, in and editorial published Monday, issued an ambiguous applaud/scolding to state leaders over the Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana law.

On one hand, the Times’ editorial board praises the fact that “a noneuphoric strain of medical marijuana could make its way into the marketplace.”

That’s because a judge tossed the final challenge to the Department of Health’s rules.

But the Times remains critical of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act approved in 2014, but still not in effect for sick patients. The law makes available non-smoked marijuana that is low in the high-inducing chemical THC but high in the therapeutic CBD. The drug’s most famous use is in patients, often young children, suffering from chronic epilepsy.

Rules regarding its distribution are particularly onerous. It requires five districts throughout the state, each with its own grower. Those five growers would be selected through a lottery. The Times calls that an “unfair monopoly” that “irresponsibly left product quality to chance.”

They hope lawmakers will take up the issue and fix the problems and expand access during next year’s legislative session.

Meanwhile, in the Tampa Tribune it’s all about local issues.

Legislatively the Trib’s editorial board is calling on lawmakers to ensure a $17 million ask for a new medical school facility in downtown Tampa is included in the budget.

Florida lawmakers reconvened in Tallahassee Monday for a three- week Special Session to finalize a budget after the Florida House adjourned early in April without passing one.

The $17 million in state funding would seal the deal on the 11-story tower slated to replace the aging Morsani College of Medicine as well as the USF Heart Health Institute. The heart institute would require an additional $15.8 million from the state.

The Trib lauds the plan to replace the current USF medical school with a downtown facility as one that makes sense. The land is being gifted for the project by developer Jeff Vinik. He’s also pledged to build an adjacent parking garage.

The Trib points out the location makes sense because it’s close to Tampa General hospital where USF medical students train and the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation complex.

The Tribune also slams a Boston attorney in a separate editorial for challenging laws passed in the City of Tampa that restrict panhandling. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the charity Homeless Helping Homeless.

According to the Tribune, panhandling brought in $26,000 for the organization in 2013. That’s money the group uses to house and feed the homeless.

The Trib calls the homeless charity’s insistence on using panhandling as a source of revenue an “insular view” and criticizes the lawsuit for being filed by “a lawyer 1,300 miles from Tampa’s streets.”

They argue the lawsuit threatens “to return the city to the days when panhandlers and solicitors operated with impunity” and hope the city “can successfully defend its laws.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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