Today, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is holding a public hearing in Tallahassee over the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, also known as the Charlotte’s Web Law for the single strain of medical marijuana the state has deemed legal.
Charlotte’s Web is a strain of marijuana, developed by the Stanley brothers of Colorado, that is high in cannabidiol and low in THC, meaning users won’t have the euphoric side effects normally associated with marijuana but will still be able to reap medical benefits from the drug.
The Charlotte’s Web Law was passed in Florida earlier this year, and use of the strain for the treatment of epilepsy, and other muscular diseases like ALS, will be allowed starting January 2015. State economists have already predicted that as many as 150,000 patients could buy medicinal marijuana by the end of next year.
Today’s hearing, which is the latest in a series held by the DOH, is over proposed regulations to implement the law. According to SaintPetersBlog (SPB), director of the DOH Linda McMullen opened the hearing this morning by “acknowledging that a notice of change of proposed rules is ‘likely.’”
McMullen told those in attendance that the DOH is seeking comments about the “proposed definition of an applicant for a Charlotte’s Web license being an ‘entity’ in which a qualified grower has at least 25 percent ownership.”
The Joint Administrative and Procedures Committee (JPAC) asked the DOH what authority it had to implement this rule as the JPAC has to certify the DOH’s work before regulations can filed and enacted, SPB reported.
General Counsel for the DOH Jennifer Tschetter explained the 25 percent rule came from the nurseries planning to grow Charlotte’s Web out of fear that banks would refuse to service them because of the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.
Representing the Florida Medical Cannabis Association, Louis Rotundo argued those fears were irrelevant and the DOH did not have the authority to enact the 25 percent rule.
“A dispensing organization does not exist until an applicant is awarded a license,” said Rotundo. “The only [potential] applicant identified in the law is a nursery.”
SPB reported that Rotundo “explained that the business arrangements behind an application are not within the department’s area of responsibility as identified by lawmakers.”
Regardless of the language used in regulations set up by the DOH and JPAC, the sooner regulations get settled, the better.
As patients with epilepsy in other states have proven, Charlotte’s Web can be a miracle drug for reducing seizures in people who do not respond to traditional seizure medicine. Given that it is an all-natural treatment, using Charlotte’s Web over prescription medications means patients who respond to marijuana treatments won’t have to deal with any of the negative side effects associated with other drugs, either.