1. Florida Politics

Commission releases a 'framework' for regulating medical marijuana

Published Oct. 1, 2014

The fate of Amendment 2 will be decided in less than five weeks, but one group has already released its recommended framework for how a system that regulates medical marijuana would work.

The 12-member Florida For Care Blue Ribbon Commission, which includes Democrats and Republicans, and representatives of law enforcement, business, healthcare and other areas, has released proposed principles that range from patient protection to professional licenses and packaging. It addresses issues like physician requirements and continuing education, regulations on caregivers and a compassionate use registry.

Former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican, and vice chair of the commission, said he doesn't plan on voting for the amendment but he joined the group to help devise a plan that would incorporate different views and assist the legislature in determining safeguards if the amendment passes.

Constitutional amendments need 60 percent of the vote to pass. The polling average of the last major public surveys shows about 64 percent of Florida voters favor Amendment 2.

"I am against the amendment because I don't think enough research has been done," Diaz de la Portilla said, "but if the people want it and it passes, then we need to get it right. ... If you have people who are for it and against it, what comes out is a better, well thought-out plan."

Despite his opposition, Diaz de la Portilla said Republicans and Democrats "have to be open-minded."

The proposal is a "starting point," said the commission's chairman, Jon Mills, who is the Amendment 2 author and a former speaker of the House.

Mills, who supports the medical marijuana amendment, said the commission's goal is to provide information so the legislature can get a head start after the election.

"The legislature has the important role," of determining the details, Mills said. The commission, with a "wide range of folks" has been working over the summer to present "credible research" and will present a proposed bill in the next few weeks.

If the amendment "were to pass, we want to make sure we have a plan in place and not do anything last-minute," Dan Rogers, Florida for Care's executive director, said. "We want the legislature to have a springboard to work with."

Florida for Care was founded in 2014 to advocate for a well-regulated, Florida medical marijuana system under Amendment 2, according to the group's website.

The group's Blue Ribbon Commission also includes Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre; farmer Teena Borek; addiction specialist Dr. Jeffrey Kamlet; Irv Rosenfeld, a federal medical marijuana patient; and caregiver Robert Jordan, whose wife Kathy has Lou Gehrig's disease and Karen Basha Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.

If the amendment passes, the commission will sponsor public meetings in November in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.