After spending a year and a half trying to figure out how to implement a CBD-only medical marijuana program, it seems that Florida officials have finally decided to kick off their clown shoes long enough to cautiously begin thinking about growing medicine for those patients suffering from either cancer or seizure disorders.
If all goes according to plan, Costa Nursery Farms will service the Southeastern portion of the state and Alpha Foliage will handle operations in the Southwest. Knox Nursery was picked to oversee production in Central Florida, while Hackney Nursery Company and Chestnut Hill Tree Farm are expected to grow, respectively, in the Northeast and Northwest portion of the state.
Although the news of this action should signal the launch of the program in the near future, it will undoubtedly be a long time before patients get their hands on medical marijuana products. That’s because the chosen nurseries must now prove to the state that they are dedicated to obtaining a license. All of them have been given 10 days to post a $5 million bond as a promise to participate. If any fail to meet this requirement, the next ranking nursery will get an opportunity to step in.
The nurseries have been given 75 days to request “cultivation authorization,” and 210 days to begin growing once approval has been granted. Therefore, it is conceivable that Florida’s Charlotte’s Web production is not likely to get underway until around June of 2016. Considering the potential construction of special grow facilities and harvest times, it is doubtful that qualified patients will be purchasing medical marijuana before the beginning of 2017. An estimated 20,000 patients were told they would have access to low-THC products by January 1, 2016. So what’s another year, right?
Fortunately, a group of Florida marijuana activists called United for Care are on track to put an initiative aimed at legalizing a full-scale medical marijuana program on the ballot in 2016. From the way it looks, the group’s follow-up to last year’s narrowly defeated “Amendment 2” has a better chance of passing in the next election than the state’s Charlotte’s Web program does of ever getting off the ground.
As it stands, United for Care has bypassed all of its opposing forces, with none of the organizations that took a stand against the ballot measure in 2014 challenging it in the Supreme Court again this year. Not even Attorney General Pam Bondi, one of the state’s grizzliest pot-hating officials, has dared go before the state’s highest court once more in 2015 to contest the issue of allowing the group’s medical marijuana proposal from moving forward.
“Based on the Court’s decision in 2014, I have not filed a legal challenge to the current amendment, but my concerns with it are the same,” Bondi said in a statement.
Because of this, the Supreme Court revealed last week that it had cancelled a hearing for the group’s latest initiative slated for the first week of December. They will now simply review United for Care’s proposal to make sure the language is understandable to the average voter. Once it is approved, the group will have until February 2016 to collect the remaining 346,000 to earn a spot on the ballot in November.
So, it is reasonable to consider that Florida voters will head to the polls next year to approve a comprehensive medical marijuana plan before any of the five growers selected to supply the state with Charlotte’s Web get their initial crop out of the ground.
What do you think? Does the Florida law go far enough to provide cannabis for those in need? Tell us in the comments below.