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Florida Lawmaker Works to Increase Medical Cannabis Access |

Florida Democratic Lawmaker: A Democratic lawmaker wants more access for patients who are medically-qualified.

That is one of the goals behind a bill being introduced by state House Representative Andrew Learned as Florida’s legislative session opened on Tuesday.

Learned’s proposal, House Bill 679, “would change Florida’s medical cannabis program, offering several technical clarifications,” local television station WFTS explained.

Among those changes, the bill “would reduce costs for people by requiring fewer doctor’s visits, allow patients to keep their registration cards for two years instead of one and give people the option to use telehealth to refill their prescriptions,” according to WFTS.

The bill also would regulate the sale and purchase of Delta-8. This hemp extract is well-known for producing a comparable high as cannabis with Delta-9 THC. It has been widely used in recent years, since 2018 Farm Bill was passed, effectively legalizing hemp at the federal level. 

Learned told the station that “the first thing to understand about [the bill] is this is the first bipartisan marijuana package we’ve really run as a state in five years since the constitutional amendment passed.” 

“Just getting both sides to agree on a way forward, I count this as a win already,” Learned said.

“This does things like, again, like keeping harmful products out of the hands of children, it’s making sure that we clean up advertising statues so we aren’t inadvertently advertising medical marijuana products in general to minors,” Learned continued. “It’s improving the program from a practical use perspective like I said with telehealth but also things like DUI testing and creating testing councils for that. Making sure that the products you purchase, such as a CBD oil or hemp extract, are safe. Right now there’s no testing requirement pre-sale.”

Learned stated that the bill would provide the necessary regulation to regulate the CBD industry.

“It’s still legal; we’re just changing some definitions and making sure the product is safe and tested, and we’re also limiting them to the sale of over 21. Right now, there’s no age limit so children can buy this stuff,” he told WFTS.

In 2016, Florida voters approved a law to allow medical marijuana. Two years ago, the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill that ended the ban on smokable medical cannabis products.

An administrative judge in Florida ordered that the state’s health department ban Leafly services. Leafly was a website where patients could order cannabis online.

The Florida Department of Health had said that “the services were prohibited under a 2017 law that set up a structure for the Florida cannabis industry,” according to a local news report at the time, but the judge found that “the ban on the use of the third-party sites amounted to an unadopted rule and ordered the state agency to ‘immediately discontinue reliance on its policy regarding online ordering of medical marijuana through third-party websites.’”

The Sunshine State still has a ban on recreational marijuana, but there is a growing movement of activists and notable politicians calling for it to be made legal.

Legalization figures to be a significant issue in Florida’s governor’s race, with Democratic hopefuls currently trying to outflank one another on the issue.

“Let me be clear: If I’m elected governor, I will legalize cannabis in the Sunshine State,” Charlie Crist, the former governor and current congressman vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said in October. “This is the first part of the Crist contract with Florida.”

Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are competing for the Democratic nomination. 

After Crist’s pledge in October, Fried called him out on his previous positions when he was governor and still a member of the Republican party.

“Imitation is flattery, but records are records,” Fried said on Twitter at the time. “People went to jail because Republicans like @CharlieCrist supported and enforced racist marijuana crime bills. Glad he’s changed his mind, but none of those people get those years back. Legalize marijuana.”