Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, also known as the “Charlotte’s Web” Law in June of last year. But due to legislative roadblocks, patients might have to wait until December 2015 before they’ll be able get the care they so desperately need. And December is apparently the best-case scenario, the Miami Herald reported.
Recently, a twelve-member panel agreed to replace the originally-planned lottery system for choosing which nurseries in the state would be allowed to grow the low-THC, high-cannabidiol strain of marijuana. Instead, a scorecard system is being developed.
Next, the panel will have to deal with a 21-day public comment window in which the proposed scorecard system can be challenged, which the Herald reported most panel members expect.
“It’s an area where people have some very strong feelings one way or the other, and people will do what they can to get the result they desire, said director of the Office of Compassionate Use Patricia Nelson. “That doesn’t mean that there is an absolute, 100 percent certainty that there will be a challenge.”
If there is one, however, there would have to be another hearing over the rules and “another round of rule-making” like the one the panel recently had. And even if the proposed plan makes it through the 21-day comment period, it could take at least two months before it could go into effect.
According to the Herald,
“…certain triggers could send this proposal right back to where it started: in front of the Legislature in the final weeks of the session. If additional hearings slow the process, the plan might not make it to the legislators until next January, when they are scheduled to convene for 2016.”
But state House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said that getting the law ironed out is “a high priority” for him this session.
“We need to put in place the bill we passed last year and take care of the families that are going to be dependent on it,” said Crisafulli. “We can talk about the future, but this is the issue now.”
Getting the families that need it access to Charlotte’s Web is paramount. The drug, which lacks the levels of THC that creates the euphoric “high” feeling associated with marijuana, has changed the lives of many patients suffering for different forms of epilepsy.
The particular strain of marijuana legal in Florida is named for Charlotte Figi, a child from Colorado who suffers from Dravet’s Syndrome and was having dozens of grand mal seizures daily. She had lost the ability to walk, talk, and feed herself. After her parents began treating her with the marijuana, Charlotte’s seizures drastically decreased in frequency and she regained all of her motor skills.
Charlotte’s story prompted the passage of Florida’s law, and several others like it around the country. The all-natural form of treatment is the only hope for many families in the state, and these legislative hold-ups are preventing patients — many of them children — from getting the relief they have failed to get from other medicines.
Watch WJAX’s coverage of this legislative hold-up.