Lawmakers Support Medical Marijuana Research

Mar 15, 2017

A House budget panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would send $2.462 million to the University of Florida for research about issues such as the effectiveness of medical marijuana in treating patients.

The proposal (HB 3159), sponsored by Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, is related to a 2014 law that legalized non-euphoric cannabis for patients with a limited number of conditions, such as children who suffer from severe seizures. Eagle's budget request said the law requires physicians to submit information about patient treatment plans, and the proposed money would carry out research on the "efficacy and safety" of the cannabis on patients.

Lawmakers last year approved allowing terminally ill patients to have access to full-strength medical marijuana, and voters followed in November by passing a constitutional amendment that will make cannabis available to patients with a wide range of medical conditions.

The House and Senate are expected to negotiate a bill to carry out the constitutional amendment. The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday approved Eagle's bill, which supporters said is an important step toward understanding the effects of medical marijuana.

"I think this is a key component of what will hopefully be a realistic bill to implement the constitutional amendment," says Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican who has long been involved in health-care issues.