Sarasota County marijuana advocates angry at Florida legislature

FILE (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida medical marijuana industry is in limbo. A bill that would have put regulations in place collapsed in Tallahassee, after lawmakers couldn’t agree on how many dispensaries the state should have, and that has advocates for the drug concerned.

On Monday morning, Dr. Barry Gordon, with the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic of Venice, received some grim news. He learned one of his patients died while waiting to get access to medical marijuana.

“My patients don’t want to get high, they want to get well, and they should have the ability to get well,” said Dr. Gordon.

But now, Dr. Gordon is still waiting on clear rules and procedures for medical marijuana in Florida. That’s because the legislature failed to pass a marijuana bill this session.

“Very, very disappointing that they couldn’t come up with a good plan at the state level,” said Dr. Gordon.

The proposed bill would’ve expanded access to medical marijuana, set aside more research funding and put in new rules for educating law enforcement. But, the House and Senate could not agree on the number of dispensaries, so the bill died.

A woman, who did not wish to be identified, uses medical marijuana as part of her cancer treatments.

“I’m frustrated with the legislature in Florida, they aren’t really following the people’s will,” she said.

The woman used to take cannabis in Michigan and is shocked at the system here in Florida.

“It’s so far behind and it’s very cumbersome,” she said.

It’s now the Florida Department of Health’s responsibility to set up new rules and direct funding for medical marijuana.

The agency recently held public workshops and an officials said they’re still reviewing the comments to come up with the best plan.

“I have real hope that things are going to get better. But, maybe not real fast in Florida,” said the woman.

“It’s just so frustrating, every patient that comes to me wants the same three things; they want to feel the best they can, they want to do it in the most natural way they can and they desire to be legal,” said Dr. Gordon.

The Florida Department of Health must now come up with a new set of rules for patients, doctors and caregivers by July 3rd and have them implemented by October.

8 On Your Side reached out to State Senator Greg Steube, who represents the Venice area. He declined to comment.

It’s important to emphasize that patients can still obtain medical marijuana in Florida. They must first be treated by a Qualified Ordering Physician and then wait 90 days to receive their medicine.


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