Florida Bills Would Legalize Medical Marijuana for Terminal Patients

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (Oct 26, 2015) – Two bills recently filed in the Florida legislature would allow terminally ill patients access to medicinal marijuana, further blocking in effect federal prohibition of cannabis. 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.

House Bill 307 (HB307) was filed by Rep. Matt Goetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) while Senate Bill 460 (SB460) was filed by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming). Introduced on Oct. 7 for next year’s legislative session, these bills would expand upon the ‘Right to Try’ law already on the books to ensure safe access to medical marijuana for terminal patients.

HB307 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.” SB460 contains nearly identical language.

“We’re offering this because people who want to die without being jacked up with opiates or who are in excruciating pain are visiting their legislators, their making phone calls, their sending emails and it’s working,” Gaetz told Tampa Bay Times report.

If HB307 and SB460 become law, Florida will join more than two-dozen states ignoring the federal prohibition of marijuana by allowing its use for medicinal purposes.

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 opinions of these powerful interests by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.

Although HB307 and 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 in practice the immoral 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 derail 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.

HB307 and SB460 are drafted as expansions to Florida’s “Right to Try” law that went into effect earlier this year, blocking in practice 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. H269 bypasses the FDA expanded access program and allows patients to obtain experimental drugs from manufacturers without obtaining FDA approval.

HB307 and SB460 will be considered during the 2016 legislative session. They have yet to receive committee assignments at the present time. Both bills must pass through committee before receiving full votes in the state House and Senate, respectively.