The Florida Legislature has grown tired of the Department of Health’s lack of progress on medical marijuana rules. The frustration has led DOH to conduct a series of workshops to move forward on the issue. The most recent one focused on pesticide use.
Ben Pollara is the Executive Director of Florida for Care, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He has become frustrated with the handling of Florida’s medical marijuana industry.
“It’s part of the Department’s history of incompetent management. You know dereliction of their responsibilities; I mean this is not new. For the past three years, since Christian Bax headed up this department, they’ve got a history of failing to meet deadlines. And wherever they can figure out a place to screw up they’ve managed to do so,” Pollara says.
Despite 71% of voters voting in favor of medical marijuana in the 2016 election, and 85,000 Floridians registered to receive a medical license, the Department of Health has not been able to keep up with the demand, failing to implement many rules and regulations for a cannabis industry.
“A lot of the implementation of the law still simply has not happened, and has been going extraordinary slowly. The Department of Health has failed to get people their ID cards in a timely manner. There was a story just in the last couple of weeks that said there was almost 30,000 people waiting to get their identification cards because of technical issues with the office,” Pollara says.
This lack of progress has forced Florida’s legislature to threaten the DOH’s higher ups with a $1.9 million cut if they do not follow through with their legal obligations by July.
In response to this, the DOH has scheduled several workshops over the last few weeks. On Friday, the issue of pesticides was covered. A proposed rule by the DOH allows pesticides that are classified as “minimum-risk” to be used for growing and harvesting the plant, but, for Jodi James of Florida Cannabis Action Network, that is not enough.
“Right now there is no pesticide that has been approved for a product that is going to be concentrated. We do not have test results so that we can know that a pesticide that is being processed through the lungs, but not through the liver, are gonna be safe,” James says.
James understands the DOH has their hands tied when it comes to the use of pesticides, as it is legally required, but asks for transparency in the use of chemicals.
“I don’t wanna see long labels, but I wanna see great inserts. I want everything that goes on to every plant to be laid out for a consumer that is particularly sensitive, like the patients I represent. And at the end of the day I wanna make sure people aren’t doing R&D on my patients,” James says.
The next medical marijuana meeting the Department of Health will conduct is scheduled for next month.