Florida Bill Legalizing Medical Marijuana for Terminal Patients Passes 2nd Committee

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (Dec, 7, 2015) – A bill that would allow terminally ill patients access to medicinal marijuana, further blocking in effect federal prohibition of cannabis, passed unanimously out of a second Senate committee last Thursday. The legislation expands on a recently passed “right to try” law that effectively thwarts in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent terminally-ill patients from accessing experimental treatments.

Senate Bill 460 (SB460) was filed by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming) last month. The bill expands upon the ‘Right to Try’ law already on the books to ensure safe access to medical marijuana for terminal patients.

The legislation would allow the distribution of “[marijuana] that is manufactured and sold by a dispensing organization” to “an eligible patient and the eligible patient’s legal representative… for the patient’s medical use.”

If SB460 becomes law, Florida will join more than two-dozen states ignoring the federal prohibition of marijuana by allowing its use for medicinal purposes.

The bill passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice by a 5-0 vote. It previously passed the Health Policy; Appropriations Subcommittee 7-0.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

Congress and the president claim the authority to ban marijuana entirely. The Supreme Court concurs. However, nearly two-dozen states have taken steps to put the well-being of their citizens above the so-called federal supremacy by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.

Although SB460 only authorizes medical marijuana for a narrow group of people, it is still a good first step. By opening the door for terminally ill patients to reap the benefits of medicinal cannabis, the state would craft its own policy rather than follow the federal government’s lead. It also would take another small step toward thwarting the deplorable federal ban.

Since FBI statistics show that approximately 99 of 100 arrests for marijuana are done under state and not federal law, states can take immediate action to effectively stop federal attempts to keep the plant illegal. Every expansion of state marijuana legalization makes it even more difficult for the federal government to enforce its prohibition on the plant.

SB460 was drafted as expansions to Florida’s “Right to Try” law that went into effect earlier this year, blocking certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that prevent terminally ill patients from accessing unapproved treatments.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits general access to experimental drugs. However, under the expanded access provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 360bbb, patients with serious or immediately life-threatening diseases may access experimental drugs after receiving express FDA approval. The new law bypasses the FDA expanded access program and allows patients to obtain experimental drugs from manufacturers without obtaining FDA approval.