Dear Florida State Legislature,
As you write the Pending Medical marijuana legistalation, Please consider your constituency. We felt that it was important in the March issue to take a look at the issues related to Cannabis Legalization as it takes over the country. Some States have full recreational use such as Colorado, Oregon, and California. Other States are in Medical Marijuana mode, where a patient with a verified illness is determined to be eligible for access to Cannabis as medicine. Finally, some States are in denial mode, where conservatives are desperately clinging to the notion that the 70-80% of voters who are in favor of legalization as medicine at a minimum are not their constituents. Here are some of the key issues:
Vertical vs. Horizontal: Typically, when a State first legalizes medical marijuana, they will embrace a vertical integration model. The presented benefits include that with a few dispensaries handling activity from seed to sale, there is more control and accountability. The challenge with the set up is that it encourages cronyism and limits the opportunity to the average citizen. There are also issues with backorders for patients if the few individuals issued licenses cannot handle the patient volumes, modality, and strain variety required to meet the patient needs. A vertical integration structure has been shown to create a monopolistic environment which is in conflict with the American tradition of a free marketplace.
Residency: Florida residents given first right to any medical marijuana application licenses.
Lack of Diversity: The Cannabis industry is not very diverse. It is only 1% black and other minority groups and women are severely underrepresented. Many are concerned that during mass incarceration, minorities were disproportionately targeted, but they are being locked out of the opportunity. States are beginning to recognize the need for diversity and they are starting to require “Diversity Plans” with Dispensary application. Visit www.minorities4medicalmarijuana.org for more information.
Micro-managing of physicians by legislators/rule makers: As regulations are rolled out, there is a trend for law makers to try to tell doctors how to treat patients or how to manage the patient/doctor relationship. Physicians have been very vocal about the fact that they cannot understand why they can prescribe opiates to a new patient, but have restrictions on referring for Marijuana which is a natural plant. Also, lawmakers are trying to determine which illnesses qualify for Marijuana for medical treatment when they do not have any medical knowledge. The public believes that physicians are the experts in treatment, and there should not be any interference with the patient/ doctor relationship. HIPPA Compliant Registry is a must, there is no need for the public to know your health related issues. There is no probative value to allow anyone to access your medical records.
Decriminalization: One of the key motivators for legalization initiatives is to decriminalize the use of Cannabis. Many patients, caretakers and their families have been prosecuted because they did not have legal access to Cannabis and they have proven results of how it has helped in their treatment. It is a common belief the Cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, especially because there are no fatalities and overdoses tied to Cannabis consumption.
Quality of Product: It is important to have independent lab testing so that mold and other contaminants do not get into the consumer supply. Patients are extremely vulnerable to contaminants. Some feel that a vertical integration strategy, especially one that lacks independent testing leads to issues with mold and contaminants. This can be detrimental to recipients of Cannabis products.
At the end of the day, it is all about patient access and giving the voters what they voted for, especially when Constitutional Amendments are involved. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed designing it.
Robert Reilly – Publisher
Scheril Murray Powell – Associate Publisher