Sunday, December 10, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Legislators should follow voters' wishes on medical marijuana

After voters overwhelmingly approved expanding medical marijuana in Florida, lawmakers should be smoothing the way for a statewide market to get established. Instead, proposed legislation would strangle growth and access by inserting bureaucrats into medical decisions, hindering competition in the industry and needlessly monitoring doctors and patients. It's a stubborn and suspicious approach that insults the will of voters, and it should be scrapped in favor of legislation that makes medical cannabis a truly accessible option.

The bill, HB 1397, by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers, outlines rules for implementing Amendment 2, which expands the limited medical uses of pot allowed in Florida. But instead of letting doctors determine when patients are candidates for medical marijuana, the bill defines a limited number of qualifying conditions, including cancer or multiple sclerosis. And it does not make eligible patients suffering from chronic pain — such as from a car accident, surgery or condition like arthritis. Instead of letting doctors alone make treatment and dosage decisions, the bill puts a 90-day limit on the supply a patient can obtain and prohibits numerous forms of cannabis, including vaporizers and smokable and edible products except for terminally ill patients. It also forces patients to wait three months after registering with the state before they can obtain marijuana, a cruel and unnecessary restriction.

The House bill lays bare how disconnected legislators are from the 71 percent of voters who approved the amendment in November. It keeps in place the monopoly on suppliers and authorizes more only when the patient registry reaches 150,000. It preserves an existing requirement that suppliers be equipped to service the entire supply chain from seed to sale, which stymies competition and growth. A bill moving through the Senate, SB 406 sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, allows more new licenses to be granted faster but also keeps vertical integration in place. The free-market enthusiasts in Tallahassee seem to have abandoned that ideal when it comes to an industry they aren't keen to see grow.

The legislation contains numerous other barriers and oversight provisions, suggesting that legislators are more worried about recreational users getting their hands on marijuana than ensuring that suffering patients have reasonable access. But the Department of Health is not a law enforcement agency, and implementing Amendment 2 should not be an exercise in how little the law can allow. Doctors and patients should not be subject to nanny state-style rules that don't apply in other medical decisions.

Florida should not turn into California when it comes to the availability of marijuana. But voters delivered a mandate that they want reasonable access to this long-stigmatized drug for limited medical purposes. Legislation implementing Amendment 2 should allow chronic pain sufferers to use the drug, leave treatment decisions to doctors, abandon unnecessary oversight and get out of the way of a competitive, thriving market.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trump’s risky move

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough County’s Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasn’t enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, it’s looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the city’s dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17