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Florida's Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules Leave Questions Unanswered

conference center room
Jessica Palombo

At a Department of Health workshop in Tallahassee today, hopeful marijuana growers, lobbyists and others voiced concerns about Florida’s proposed rules governing medical cannabis. By the beginning of next year, the state can select up to five growers authorized to supply non-high-inducing marijuana under the so-called “Charlotte’s Web” law.

Robert McKee says he hopes to be Florida’s medical marijuana supplier for the Southeast region (each of five regions can have one supplier, proposed to be selected by lottery if there is more than one applicant). But McKee says there’s a catch in the law that could open him up to prosecution. Only non-high-inducing marijuana with a large percent of healing cannabidiol will be legal—but importing it or working with existing strains to alter them will still be illegal, he says.

“And so I think we have to find a way to get that product here, which is legal. Otherwise it’s a house of cards; it all folds up," he says.

The kind of marijuana that is legal in Florida exists in Colorado, but importing it could land someone in jail.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach), the Charlotte’s Web bill’s House sponsor, said in an interview no one will be given immunity from federal or state laws prohibiting possession, growing or selling high-inducing marijuana. He says how the legal strain arrives in Florida is “an open question," adding some parents of children with epilepsy have said they'd bring it into the state.

Other speakers said the draft rules did not clearly enough define what a dispensary is, what a medical director's duties are, what kind of insurance dispensaries should have or what kinds of "delivery methods" would be allowed to get the product to patients. Case in point: While the assumed end product would be an oil to be taken orally, the draft rules specifically prohibit "edibles."

Department of Health atttorney Jennifer Tschetter says the state will take today's comments into consideration as it works on the next draft of the rules. She says another public meeting will probably be held in late July or early August.