Florida

Florida: Medical Cannabis Businesses Taking Root

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last month, the Palm Beach County Commission and the Dania Beach Commission agreed to allow medical marijuana dispensaries wherever pharmacies are allowed. Cities across South Florida will decide whether to allow dispensaries within their borders in the coming months.

“I wish it was around, legalized with a doctor’s prescription when my mother was dying,” Dania Commissioner Chickie Brandimarte said.

Florida: Universities Set to Begin Researching Industrial Hemp

Industrial Hemp

The University of Florida and Florida A&M University both qualified to spearhead the state's pilot hemp project

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Florida farmers are looking for an alternative cash crop, with citrus production down. A new law, SB 1726, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday gives universities in the state with a college of agriculture permission to research hemp.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, with a companion bill sponsored by Rep. Dr. Ralph Massullo, R-Beverly Hills, allows for universities to develop pilot projects to cultivate, process, test, research, create and market safe commercial applications for industrial hemp.

Florida: Governor Scott Vetoes Funding Cancer Center And University For Cannabis Research

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a budget funding of more than $3 million to the Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida. In the untimely budget veto, Gov. Scott said the university and the cancer center had plenty of money to fund the research on their own.

Cannabis is included in the Controlled Substances Act, which means research on cannabis is stifled by many politicians.

“I want to know the real effects,” State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton said “What are the negative effects? What are the downsides?”

Florida: First Gainesville Medical Marijuana Dispensary To Open

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By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Friday, May 19th, a Winter Garden-based medical marijuana firm, Knox Medical, will open a dispensary storefront in Gainesville, one of its first in Florida since the approval of a medical marijuana amendment in November.

“What we’re doing is changing people’s perception of what cannabis in Florida is all about,” said Bruce Knox, the company’s founder and chief operating officer. “Education is key to what will be our success in years to come,” he continued.

In Florida, a patient must have been treated by a qualified physician for at least three months before becoming eligible to receive medical marijuana treatments.

Before medical marijuana becomes an option, according to the state Health Department’s Office of Compassionate Use, a patient must have also tried other treatments without success.

“They’re coming in as the last option,” according to retail operations worker Daniel McVay. “We want to get on that patient’s level.”

Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment in November 2016 to legalize medical marijuana, broadening access to cannabis beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved two years ago by the Legislature.

Florida: Lawmakers Fail To Reconcile Medical Marijuana Implementation Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida lawmakers failed to enact legislation this legislative session establishing rules for the implementation of Amendment 2, a voter-initiated measure that legalizes the use, production, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment was approved in November, passing with the support of more than 70 percent of voters.

Unless lawmakers convene a special legislative session to address the issue, Department of Health staff will be responsible for establishing regulations for the program. Those rules are due by July 3. The amendment calls for the program to be operational by October.

Florida: Smoking Marijuana Not Allowed Under New Medical Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida's House and Senate are making changes to the state's medical marijuana constitutional amendment enacted by voters last November, but neither body has any intention of allowing smoking, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Michael Minardi, a lawyer and medical marijuana advocate in Florida, said that the legislature ignores the wishes of the more-than 70 percent of voters who approved the law during the General Election.

“These are veterans. These are the elderly. These are seniors, and people with ALS or PTSD, who benefit [from] and use cannabis in a smoked form,” he said in the report. “What you are doing here, by creating this legislation when 71 percent of the people support it, is going against their will.”

State Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican who has supported marijuana legislation in the state, said smoking provisions will not be included in the final version of the bill.

“There is agreement between the majority of the House and Senate that the smoking of cannabis is not an act that is consistent with a healthy life and not consistent with consuming medicine,” he said.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, who has proposed banning marijuana-infused edibles, called the current bill “a work in progress.”

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bill Would Outlaw Smokable And Edible Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Last year, 72 percent of Floridians voted to amend the state constitution to make medical marijuana legal for patients with certain qualifying illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's. The Florida Legislature must now come up with medical marijuana rules.

Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues introduced the first medical marijuana regulations yesterday, and they would ban patients from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Only patients that are terminally ill would be allowed to vaporize.

"It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana," says Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign director. "There was unanimous agreement that the new amendment would expand use."

Rodrigues' bill defines the "medical use" of cannabis as "the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana authorized by a physician certification."

Specifically, however, the bill says medical use does not include "possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking or vaping or in the form of commercially produced food items made with marijuana or marijuana oils, except for vapable forms possessed, used, or administered by or for a qualified patient diagnosed with a terminal condition."

U.S.: GW Pharma Moves To Monopolize CBD Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Bruce Barcott of Leafly has exposed some actions taken by GW Pharma (NASDAQ: GWPH) that seem to attempt to limit competition from suppliers of CBD.

Lobbyists have been engaged in several states by the company and its U.S. subsidiary, Greenwich BioSciences, companies which are both supporting legislation in South Dakota and Nebraska that would “effectively give GW/Greenwich a temporary monopoly on legal CBD products” in those states for its Epidiolex.

If given FDA approval, Epidiolex could be on the market in early 2018. Legislation advancing in both South Dakota and Nebraska suggests that CBD would be permitted only from FDA-approved providers.

Barcott says GW Pharma and Greenwich BioSciences have hired lobbyists in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin and possibly in California. Barcott attempted to contact GW Pharma for comment but has not yet received a reply. Should GW Pharma succeed in stifling competition, it could have a serious impact on hopeful in-state poducers of CBD, as well as companies both foreign and domestic who extract CBD from industrial hemp.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Available Starting Today

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Today marks the first day that patients in Florida have access to medical marijuana, and doctors are experiencing an influx of patients the new law is bringing in.

Doctors will not be handing out marijuana immediately, however. Doctors and state health officials have up to six months to create a plan for distributing the drug, under the new law.

Qualified physicians who have completed an eight-hour training course regarding medical marijuana will be allowed to prescribe two types of marijuana. Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC marijuana, which has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high” commonly associated with marijuana.

If a patient has been determined to be terminally ill by two physicians, they may qualify for medical marijuana which contains significant levels of THC.

Some conditions that may qualify a patient for one of the treatments include cancer, seizures, muscle spasms, AIDS, glaucoma, and Parkinson's disease.

Florida: Senator Wants State To Pay For Marijuana Research

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Marijuana is still classified by the federal government as a dangerous drug with no medicinal benefit, making research on the drug difficult. But a powerful state senator in Florida wants to change that.

Senator Bill Galvano said we need to know more and wants the state of Florida to pay for research.

"We are relying on anecdotal evidence," Galvano said. "We have a dearth of research from the feds for a variety of reasons, and it's important for us to understand both the benefits and potential hazards of this plant and drug as we go forward."

Galvano said he would send money to Moffitt Cancer Center at USF. Other universities, such as Florida A&M, may get some as well.

Legislation was expanded earlier this year to include legal medical marijuana for terminally ill patients and that expansion specifically allowed research in Florida universities.

"We have a product that has some medical relief that comes with it, so we'll be looking at what are the actual features of the plant that may be more medicinally important for the pharmaceutical industry," said Tim Moore, FAMU VP for research.

U.S.: State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Political leaders in several states are acting to challenge election results regarding regulation of marijuana.

"Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly," said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. "Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them."

Massachusetts voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Lawmakers are trying to move the date on which adults can begin growing marijuana from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified later time. They also want to delay retail sales of pot until late 2018.

Although Maine voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law's implementation. Gov. LePage said that he "will be talking to Donald Trump" about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and said that he "will not put this (law) into play" unless the federal government signs off on it.

Florida: Medical Marijuana Bans Popping Up Across State

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Florida became the 26th state to legalize medical marijuana last week. Amendment 2 was on the ballot in 2014 but failed to pass, receiving 58% of the vote (Florida requires 60% or more for constitutional amendments). The second time it successfully passed, as the 2016 version of the initiative received 71% of the vote. Medical marijuana was so popular in 2016 that Amendment 2 won in county in Florida.

Some people still oppose medical marijuana in Florida, however. Bans and moratoriums have been popping up across Florida which will prevent medical marijuana businesses from opening where the bans and moratoriums exist. Per the Sun Sentinel:

Places like Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton have temporarily banned marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers until they can assess the effects on the community and establish zoning regulations.

Boca extended its temporary ban on Tuesday, the same day that more than 70 percent of Florida voters agreed to expand the use of medical marijuana. Boca’s freeze is one of at least a half-dozen across South Florida.

“We owe it to our residents and the people of our city to understand the implications of it,” said Christine Thrower, the manager for the village of Golf.

U.S.: What Does Trump Presidency Mean For The Marijuana Industry?

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Whether or not you were a supporter for a Donald Trump presidency, everyone wonders what his presidency will mean for his or her beliefs. Marijuana users and supporters wonder how his presidency will affect the marijuana industry.

Election Day 2016 marked a big win for marijuana. Residents voted in nine different states on legalizing some form of marijuana. Five of those states were voting on whether or not to allow recreational use. Eight of those nine states passed their legalization measures, with only Arizona's recreational measure not passing.

California was the largest state to legalize it, making recreational use legal for adults. In addition to California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana use. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved medical initiatives. Montana passed an additional measure to legalize commercial growing and distribution.

The Motley Fool declared marijuana a big winner on Election Day, but pointed out that how the marijuana industry could change under the Donald Trump presidency is open to a lot of interpretation. No-one knows what decisions Trump and Congress will make regarding the marijuana industry between now and January 2020.

California: Recreational Marijuana Now Legal

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana is now legal in California. Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts also legalized recreational marijuana, but the size and population of California puts its decision in a different league and it could lead the way to figuring out policy around the drug.

While the recreational marijuana initiative in Arizona failed, several other states voted on medical marijuana. North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas and Florida all approved medical marijuana.

60 percent of Americans support legalizing weed, up from 31 percent in 2000. California is the state with the largest economy and — now that it has legalized cannabis — the national weed industry has tripled in size.

California’s marijuana industry could be bigger than its famed wine businesses. The market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is now projected to grow to $22 billion by 2020, up from $7 billion this year.

This may also put a lot more pressure on the federal government to lift its ban of the drug. The Drug Enforcement Administration has long classified cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive classification. This means it’s in the same category as heroin and LSD. Just this August, the DEA rejected an appeal to stop classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug.

Florida: New Poll Says Majority Of Voters Support Legalizing Medical Marijauna

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Election Day 2016 is coming soon, now less than two weeks away. Nine statewide marijuana initiatives are on the ballot this year, five for recreational pot legalization and four for medical marijuana. Florida's Amendment 2 is one of these; it would legalize medical cannabis for those who receive a recommendation from a physician.

A similar measure failed to pass in 2014, when United For Care failed to pass into law despite receiving over 50% of the vote. This year’s initiative also requires 60% of voter support to pass.

New polling shows that well over 60% of voters support the constitutional amendment. The new shows that well over 60% of voters support the constitutional amendment. The new Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll found that 74% of voters in Florida are in favor of Amendment 2.

“Despite the No on 2 campaign spending millions of dollars in advertising, Amendment 2 support is still holding strong,” Kevin Akins says, a pollster for Anzalone Liszt Grove.

“Voters across racial, gender, and geographic divides support the Amendment 2 ballot language by a winning margin.”

Akins notes that; “Importantly, support today is +13% greater than internal surveys taken three weeks from the 2014 election. Amendment 2 looks poised to finish strong this year”.

Utah: Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils Medical Marijuana Plan

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In the wake of his wife pleading guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana charge, Utah gubernatorial candidate Mike Weinholtz has rolled out a plan to legalize medical marijuana.

"There have been people suffering long enough, and we know this would help those people, so now is the time," Weinholtz said on Thursday.

His wife has said she uses marijuana to deal with chronic pain. Feds declined to prosecute her case and sent it to the Tooele County Attorney. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pot possession charge.

“It's bigger than just my wife and my family,” Weinholtz said. “There are thousands of Utahns that are struggling with these many different types of conditions.”

Weinholdts's plan includes: -Legalizing medical marijuana, with reasonable safeguards.

-Funding pain management programs, to cut down on opioid abuse.

-Expanding education and police department supply of Naloxone, used to save drug overdose patients.

"The increase in opioid addiction in the state has been dramatic, has been 400 percent since the year 2000, and medical cannabis would help with the reduction of opioids as well," Weinholtz said.

Florida: New Ad Campaign Says Marijuana Isn't Medicine

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The anti-marijuana group Drug Free Florida released a 30 second ad Thursday which opens with a prescription for Marinol, which the group says offers the same benefits as medical marijuana.

Marinol is a pharmaceutical tetrahydrocannabinol, a drug which contains the principal psychoactive component of cannabis. 

The ad then goes on to slam medical marijuana for not being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and for not being prescribed by a doctor.

The group says amendment 2 is a “scam” which would make medical marijuana legal. “You don’t smoke medicine,” the ad says, while pictures of young people smoking marijuana flash on the screen. 

The ad is the latest in the fight against Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida for patients with “debilitating conditions.”

Conditions covered under the amendment would include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and for other conditions which a physician feels using medical marijuana would outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. 

There are differences between Marinol and marijuana. Marinol contains only THC, and can take about an hour to take effect, while smoked or vaporized THC takes effect in a matter of seconds or minutes. Marinol is often used to treat cancer patients, HIV/AIDS patients, and people undergoing chemotherapy.

Montana: Initiative On Ballot To Improve Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Most states have relaxed restrictions on marijuana in recent years. Some have legalized it for recreational use; half the states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. But Montana has gone backward.

Although Montana adopted medical marijuana in 2004, a law was passed in 2011 that severely limited the reach of marijuana providers. The Supreme Court affirmed the law in February.

Today, marijuana advertising is banned, marijuana dispensaries cannot have more than three registered users and doctors who prescribe marijuana to more than 25 patients annually will be reviewed by the state. Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries closed when the restrictions took effect the end of August.

But supporters of medical marijuana are hoping to be back in business come November with Montana I-182, a ballot initiative that would repeal the law that effectively killed the medical marijuana industry. A "yes" vote would repeal the limit of three patients per dispensary, which estimates say cut off at least 12,000 medical marijuana users when it was put into effect — the vast majority of those were using marijuana as medication.

Florida: Port Richey Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Port Richey City Council just became the first government body in Pasco County, Florida to decriminalize the possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

After many weeks of debate, the council passed an ordinance Tuesday night on a 3-2 vote that will allow police the discretion to issue a $155 civil citation in lieu of an arrest on a criminal misdemeanor charge for possessing less than 20 grams of pot, as long as the offender is age 18 or older and not engaged in any other simultaneous crime.

Marijuana activist and local businessman Garyn Angel spearheaded the lobbying effort that led to the council's consideration of the ordinance. He stood in front of City Hall with Port Richey's seal behind him to celebrate the vote, making a speech to a two-man video crew he employs. It went out on Facebook live to his followers, who he said number in the hundreds of thousands.

Dozens of people spoke for or against the ordinance during previous hearings, and there was contentious debate. Ultimately, the council vote was split, with Mayor Dale Massad and council members Jennifer Sorrell and Will Dittmer in favor.

Vice Mayor Terry Rowe and Nancy Britton opposed the vote, afraid that it will encourage drug dealing and use in the city.

There was little debate by Tuesday night; no one from the public or on the council spoke

Florida: New Polling Shows Medical Marijuana Initiative At 70 Percent Support

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New polling released by Public Policy Polling shows that 70 percent of voters in Florida support Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana with just 23 percent opposed. Seven percent remain undecided.

“Poll after poll has us winning this race in November and finally allowing Florida’s doctors to make the recommendations they feel are best for thousands and thousands of suffering patients in Florida”, says Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager for United for Care, the group behind Amendment 2. “Still, the No On 2 Campaign is doing everything it can to provoke fear and obstruct this important access. And they have a lot of money to do it.”

According to Pollara, they know from their 2014 campaign that “things can change very quickly when you’re out spent”. Knowin that, the group is continuing to build their advertising fund to “make sure we have enough to adequately communicate the truth to undecided (or easily swayed) voters.”

“We have 60 days. Mail ballots drop in roughly 30. Please urgently contribute here.”, says Pollara. "It doesn’t have to be a big donation.”

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