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Florida Legislature May Expand the ‘Right to Try’ Act to Include Medical Marijuana

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach

Looking a few months back into 2015 a couple of Florida Representatives – Matt Gaetz and Katie Edwards – proposed a measure that would significantly change the medical marijuana industry that is trying to grow.

The measure would expand upon the ‘Right to Try’ Act, which allows individuals who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than a year to live to be able to try any experimental drugs available. The expansion would allow for all types of marijuana and forms of consumption.

This would be a marked improvement on medical marijuana policy in the fact that there would be at least some patients with access to high-THC cannabis – but it would only be available to those who were already preparing to face death.

The bill has already been approved by the House panel – meaning it still has to make its way through the senate prior to becoming law. It was only approved after a rewrite that took out an expansion on the number of nurseries who would be able to be licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana.

“If you have a year left to live you’re going to try whatever you think may be helpful,” said Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, who supported the bill. “Frankly, you’re not going to care whether it’s legal or not.”

Originally, the measure would have expanded the current 5 nurseries to a total of 20. This change was the most controversial part about this measure and the reason it took so long to be pushed through. In the end, the number remains at 5 – 3 of which are currently awaiting hearings on whether or not they will receive the final license.

These nurseries were chosen as a part of the 2014 Charlotte’s Web law, which legalized low-THC, high-CBD strains of marijuana for patients with epilepsy and similar debilitating conditions. The nurseries recently all submitted their authorization for cultivation and once authorization is granted, they will be starting to produce the low-THC strains – as long as none of their legal troubles cause a hold up.

If approved in the senate, these nurseries would be expanding their crops to include high-THC marijuana to be sold to the terminally ill. This would produce more patients, which in turn will produce more sales for these companies – which will be needed to cover startup costs.

Many CBD only programs mean well, but they tend to set the state up for failure with medical marijuana. At least with this addition, if things got rolling before Amendment 2 passes in November (Vote Yes on 2!) then the companies will have a better outlook for success with the start of this industry.