With bipartisan backing, a Florida House panel voted to legalize a non-euphoric brand of marijuana which supporters say could help thousands of children suffering from epileptic seizures.
It is the first time the Florida Legislature has advanced any type of medical marijuana legalization effort – and comes as other states and Florida voters themselves are prompting wholesale changes to drug laws.
The House Criminal Justice Committee spent two hours listening to doctors, parents and advocates for medical marijuana testify that children whose brains are ravaged by painful and eventually lethal seizures have seen dramatic turnarounds in places like Colorado, where the particular no-high brand of weed known as “Charlotte’s Web” was created.
Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, likened the medicine to Flint-stone vitamins, and called the bill a “common sense” solution for families who have exhausted traditional medical treatments.
“We’re relying on an empowered consumer and an empowered physician, and we have to give those folks all the tools to make sure that they’re not using snake oil,” Gaetz said.
The version of cannabis nicknamed “Charlotte’s Web” after a Colorado child is high in the non-euphoric cannabidiol (CBD), and low in the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which gets people high when smoking the plant.
It is administered orally as an oil and not smoked.
Peyton and Holley Moseley, of Gulf Breeze, have become poster-parents for legalizing the drug on behalf of their 11-year-old daughter Ray Ann, who suffers from daily, crippling seizures.
The only traditional treatment doctors have left for her is to split her brain in half, they have said.
When the traveled to Colorado to observe the CHarlotte’s Web operation, they saw that “these kids can walk now; these kids can talk now; these kids are saying ‘I love you’ to their parents for the first time.”
Although it cleared the panel 11-1, some lawmakers have expressed concerns over how the drug would be produced, regulated and administered. Those details haven’t been completely hammered out between both chambers.
“My heart goes out to the parents; I cannot imagine having a child that is suffering so,” said Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican who was the lone ‘no’ vote.
“If you want to call it medical marijuana, it is a drug. … If you really want to solve a problem and solve a problem and not just legalize marijuana, then you have to do it appropriately. there’s a way to do this appropriately in true science.”
The Senate has filed its own version of the bill, while Florida voters this fall will decide on a constitutional amendment which would legalize medical marijuana in general.
“I’m very proud. I was moved to tears a couple of times,” Edwards said after the vote.
“We just have to remember why we’re doing this and keep doing the research and just be reminded there’s a population here we’re doing this for and these patients need help right now.”
Source: The Orlando Sentinel