(MiamiHerald) The Florida Department of Health is touring the state this week to gauge the reception of its proposed guidelines for the rollout of an expanded medical marijuana program following the November passage of Amendment 2. Public workshops begin Monday in Jacksonville, continue in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday morning and in Tampa and Orlando on Wednesday before culminating in Tallahassee on Thursday. They’re scheduled amid criticism that the state seems inclined to limit the availability of marijuana, but also amid concerns about the sudden introduction of a medication that remains an illicit drug under federal law. Amendment 2, which passed in November with more than 71 percent support and went into effect Jan. 3, seeks to expand marijuana access to patients with a wide variety of conditions and ailments, and allows for the expansion of the state’s nascent growing and distributing industry. It requires the Department of Health to come up with procedures by early July. The proposed rules issued last month by the department, however, would squeeze the medical cannabis expansion into an existing, limited system created for the terminally ill and people suffering from chronic seizures and spasms. The seven companies currently licensed to grow and process marijuana would keep their grip on the market, and the expanded number of eligible patient conditions would be limited to a list of 10, barring rulings by the state Board of Medicine. Medical marijuana advocates, including the engineers of the amendment, say the proposed rules dismiss requirements of Amendment 2. Florida for Care, the group that pushed the amendment during the election, is now campaigning to generate turnout for the department’s meetings. On the other hand, some want the state to consider additional regulations. Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman has introduced a resolution that would urge Tallahassee to create rules tightly regulating pesticide usage, quality control, and security requirements for marijuana-based businesses that in many cases are cash-only due to the reluctance of banks to handle their accounts. Health department regulations go down to the labeling of medications and pill bottle designs.
Feb. 6, 2017
▪ When: 2-4 p.m. ▪ Where: Duval County Health Department, 900 University Blvd., North Jacksonville ### Feb. 7, 2017
▪ When: 10 a.m.-noon ▪ Where: Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th St., Fort Lauderdale ### Feb. 8, 2017
▪ When: 9-11 a.m. ▪ Where: Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory, 3602 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa ### Feb. 8, 2017
▪ When: 6-8 p.m. ▪ Where: Orange County Health Department, 6102 Lake Ellenor Dr., Orlando ### Feb. 9, 2017
▪ When: 4-6 p.m. ▪ Where: Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148, Tallahassee