Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't leave Charlotte's Web sellers to chance

Florida lawmakers made a sound decision earlier this year when they legalized Charlotte's Web for the treatment of children with epileptic seizures. Now state regulators setting rules for who can grow and distribute the drug should establish a free-market competition rather than a lottery for businesses that meet the law's minimum qualifications for growers. Patients and parents of children who will use the drug should be able to do business with companies that will produce the safest, most efficacious products on the market — not simply the grower whose name is pulled out of a hat.

Lawmakers approved Charlotte's Web and Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law after months of lobbying by the parents of sick children who said the drug eased pain where traditional medicine had failed. The drug is a noneuphoric strain of marijuana that is low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It contains high amounts of cannabidiol, an ingredient known for treating seizures, cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease. The strain was developed in Colorado and named after a 7-year-old girl who had 300 epileptic seizures a day until she found relief using Charlotte's Web. Advocates say more than 125,000 children in Florida could be helped by Charlotte's Web.

In Florida, lawmakers placed significant restrictions on the drug's composition and on how it will be grown and distributed. The law calls for the creation of five dispensaries around the state. Growers must have been in business for 30 continuous years, pay for a $150,000 license and post a $5 million performance bond. Proposed rules from the Department of Health create five regions for the drug's distribution. If there is more than one applicant for a region, the department proposes a public lottery "to determine the order in which applications are considered." Companies chosen in the lottery will have 120 days to begin dispensing the products or lose their license.

The health department's lottery proposal is a wrongheaded move that leaves the important selection of growers and distributors of noneuphoric marijuana up to chance. Setting up a lottery may ultimately discourage qualified companies from participating in the selection process. If that happens, sick children and adults who are counting on robust, trustworthy medicine stand to lose the most. Just as in any free market, all qualified growers that meet the law's minimum standards should be able to compete for dispensaries. Regulators should make the time to thoroughly investigate each application and choose the best growers on their merits and potential.

Entrepreneurs around the country are already jockeying to secure a piece of what they see as the state's lucrative medical marijuana business. Many are complaining about the strict rules surrounding Charlotte's Web, particularly the requirement that growers have a continuous 30-year operations record. The state is right to hold the reins close during such an important product rollout, which if handled improperly could lead to abuse and mismanagement. But the licenses for growers should be awarded on merit, not chance.

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Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Editorial: A good first step in restoring the right to vote

Allowing felons a meaningful chance to reclaim their right to vote and rejoin civic life is edging closer to reality in Florida. On Tuesday the state announced that a yearslong petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot h...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18