The House unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would let people use experimental drugs — but not marijuana — if a doctor tells them they have less than a year to live.
The “Right To Try Act” will only apply to drugs that have gone through the first phase of federal testing, though several lawmakers are still hoping marijuana will be included in the legislation if it eventually passes the full Legislature.
One Republican lawmaker made it clear that even though marijuana isn’t included in the bill, Floridians who are terminally ill should go ahead and smoke it anyway.
“The right to try represents a core value protected by our constitution, and if you are facing death and there is a substance you want to use for your personal health that is not set forth in this legislation, assert your constitutional right and use it,” Rep. John Wood said.
Democratic Rep. Katie Edwards responded to the remarks by saying, “Amen, amen, amen.”
An effort to put marijuana language in House Bill 269 was aborted to let it to go through with strong support. Lawmakers agreed that allowing experimental drugs already under federal review is appropriate for people about to die, even if, like Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley, they don’t support medical marijuana.
“These are drugs that are tried, these are drugs that have been through examination, these are drugs that we have control of — quantity, quality, intensity, some kind of dosage,” Baxley said.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said he hopes a Senate bill with the marijuana provision comes back to the House. He said applying it only to the terminally ill ensures that it won’t be abused by people just looking to get high.
“They have to get a doctor to sign that they have less than a year to live. This is a group of people who are not buying green bananas,” Gaetz said.
The most emotional testimony came from Republican Rep. Debbie Mayfield. Her husband, then-Rep. Stan Mayfield, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and told he had three months to live. She said he was given trial drugs that shrank his tumors and extended his life a year and a half. But because the drugs didn’t have federal approval, he had to stop taking them. He died a short time later.
“There is nothing harder than to come home from a hospital and have to tell your children at the age of 12 and at the age of 14 and at the age of 17 that their dad is going to die now because we cannot get the drugs that he’s needed to keep him alive,” said Mayfield.
She recalled explaining to her 12-year-old that the drugs were illegal: “His comment was, ‘Then change the law. That’s what you guys do.'”
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.