Now that medical marijuana is legal in Florida officials now must decide how to regulate it. The process begins Monday in Tallahassee when the Department of Health holds a day-long workshop on implementing SB 1030, which authorizes prescriptions for low-THC cannabis for a specific set of patients.
Regulations for the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act or Charlotte’s Web law are of interest to many because it authorizes five dispensaries, one for each region of the state. The licenses for those dispensaries could be awarded through a lottery, according to a draft rule released by the DOH Wednesday.
SB 1030 allows the cultivation and distribution of an extract of one specific strain of marijuana that is low in THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana that produces a high, but high in cannabidioiol (CBD) a substance that may help alleviate seizures. The law requires the cultivation, processing and distribution of the drug take place at the same location.
In order to grow the Charlotte’s Web strain of cannabis, the nursery must be capable of growing 400,000 or more plants, be certified by the state and has been in operation for 30 continuous years.
They would be growing and through their dispensaries providing a product for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.
The measure signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott enables doctors to prescribe a cannabis extract for a specific set of ailments. The law authorizes a prescription only to patients suffering from cancer or a medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including things like severe epilepsy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Epilepsy affects about 1 in 100 people, according to the Center for Disease Control. Given that, about 200,000 people suffer from epilepsy in Florida. Although the law also allows access for people with some terminal diseases, there is no evidence the strain actually helps these ailments.
There are 31 nurseries that could qualify for a cannabis license, the draft rule released Wednesday includes a public lottery to determine the order applications would be reviewed in a region if there is more than one applicant. The first application meeting all the requirements would be awarded a dispensary license.
The winner then would have 30 days to pay a $150,000 license fee and post the $5 million performance bond.
The draft rule will be discussed at a rule-making workshop scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Monday at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
Once the rules for SB 1030 are adopted and go into effect applicants will have 10 days to apply for a dispensary license.