Medical Tourism Could Get Backing

Feb 24, 2015
Visit Florida

A House Republican on Monday filed a proposal that would lead to marketing Florida as a "medical tourism" destination --- and put state money behind it.

The proposal (HB 945), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require Enterprise Florida to market the state as a "destination for quality health care services."

That would include efforts such as promoting the qualifications and expertise of health-care providers and promoting medical-related conferences or business opportunities in Florida.

The latest push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida is getting support from law enforcement.

Back in November, voters defeated Amendment 2, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, now wants to run the idea by Florida's legislature.

One supporter of this legislative approach is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who tells WUSF News that  while he opposed Amendment 2,  there's more to like in SB 528.

Samples of medical marijuana shown on display
Wikimedia Commons

There's a new push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, and a Republican lawmaker is leading the charge.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana failed in November, Republican lawmaker state Sen. Jeff Brandes has filed a bill to make medical marijuana legal for Florida residents.

"Amendment Two really was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it offer," said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. 

Brandes filed SB 528 Monday afternoon.

Medical Marijuana Backers Court Lawmakers, Investors

Dec 17, 2014

The medical marijuana amendment failed at the polls during last month's election. But that doesn't mean marijuana campaigners have given up.

The Florida for Care Winter Conference takes place Wednesday in Miami at the downtown Intercontinental Hotel. Organizer Ben Pollara said lawmakers will be among the attendees at the all-day conference, which has a two-track agenda for legalizing marijuana as medicine. 

Advocates and foes of the upcoming medical marijuana amendment aren’t talking much about the role Florida’s Legislature would play if it becomes law, the Miami Herald reports.

Lawmakers have a significant say in the rules about who obtains and distributes medical marijuana but the campaigns are focusing on what voters want, according to the Herald.

Orlando attorney John Morgan -- famous for his TV commercials and for his backing of the medical marijuana amendment in Florida -- stopped by the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida today.

It's part of a campus bus tour he's on this week to get out the youth vote for Amendment 2.

This November, voters in Florida will decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.  Recently, The Ledger of Lakeland hosted a forum on Amendment 2. The forum was moderated by Lenore Devore, the paper's editor, and featured Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Orlando attorney John Morgan.

Video of Orlando attorney John Morgan addressing a pro-pot crowd at a post-debate party in Polk County surfaced last week and is now being circulated by the “Vote No on 2” campaign, The Tampa Tribune reports. Morgan is downplaying the profanity-laced video, saying the speech was “tongue in cheek” and that he was speaking to a younger audience, the Tribune reports.

  Armed with an MBA from Nova Southeastern University, horticulturist Carlos Hermida headed west to California, where he graduated as valedictorian from a for-profit college that trains individuals for the cannabis industry.

Hermida, a Miami native who now resides in Tampa, is one of the more than 200 interested parties – from doctors to security expects to current or potential patients – who attended Canna-Ed Day in Boca Raton Friday.

The Florida Department of Health's proposed rule for the cultivation and sale of a certain type of low-THC medical marijuana garnered a slew of suggested changes and complaints during a Monday workshop in Tallahassee, the News Service of Florida reports.

Opponents of Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana, have warned it will bring chaos like that in Colorado and California when it became legal in those states, with shops springing up on every corner. But supporters say the ballot measure calls for state control and regulation over such matters as how many medical marijuana dispensaries could open and where they would operate.

After a weekend scare, in which more than two dozen people were treated at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, the threat from a bad batch of synthetic drugs called “spice” eased, with five remaining hospitalized. But health and law enforcement officials are on the alert for more cases, according to The Gainesville Sun.  

Cherie Diez / Tampa Bay Times

As lawmakers continue to debate the legalization of medical marijuana, biologists say science supports the medicinal value of pot, the Tampa Bay Times reports.


Scientists have identified that marijuana activates the on-off switches in the body that can affect certain cells, including those that affect motion, memory, appetite and judgment, the Times reports.

Florida’s debate about legalizing a strain of medical marijuana for children has brought notoriety for affected families, and not all of it is positive.

The House Appropriations Committee has signed off on allocating $1 million to research a non-intoxicating form of medicinal marijuana to treat unmanageable epilepsy in children.

The panel voted 24-0 for the measure (HB 843) on Thursday.

You may expect a lecture at cannabis college to sound like a scene from the stoner movie Half Baked.

Instead, it sounds like a lot of talk about light bulb wattage and ducting systems.

Major buzz kill.

The second-largest donor to United for Care, the group behind the push that got the issue of legalizing medical marijuana on the ballot for November 2014, is an heir to the fortune amassed by a dermatology company.

A proposal that would legalize a marijuana derivative known as Charlotte’s Web has gained additional support this week from leading Republican senators, The Palm Beach Post reports.  

The bill would make it legal for epilepsy patients to be prescribed the oil extract for seizure relief.

It has little THC, the marijuana chemical that produces a “high.”

Fact-Checking Marijuana Claims

Feb 6, 2014

There is going to be a lot of talk about marijuana in the state of Florida between now and November, when Floridians will be given an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

Around the country, 20 states and the District of Columbia have already taken that step.

To clear the air as the debate over medical marijuana gets underway here, PolitiFact Florida fact-checked some claims being made about the medical marijuana and the effects of marijuana.

Cherie Diez / Tampa Bay Times

This November, Florida voters will have a say on a constitutional amendment allowing the use of medical marijuana.  In the meantime, truths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods have been swirling around in the news, according to the Tampa Bay Times (paywall alert). 

TALLAHASSEE -- A Florida measure that would allow the use of medical marijuana has cleared its final hurdle and will be on the November ballot. 

The state Supreme Court on Monday approved the language for the proposed constitutional amendment.

The justices approved the ballot summary 4-3 just three days after a petition drive reached the required number of signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

Emotional pleas to help children who suffer constant seizures helped convince Florida lawmakers Thursday that a strain of marijuana should be legalized. State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach and chair of the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, said he will file a bill to legalize Charlotte’s Web, which studies find are effective in helping children at risk for seizures, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Petition drives are just part of Florida’s debate over medical marijuana, media across the state report. 

Samples of medical marijuana shown on display
Wikimedia Commons

Two Florida legislators are considering ways to legalize a strain of medical marijuana for children who suffer from seizures.

The proposals from Reps. Katie Edwards, D-Sunrise, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, focus on a strain called Charlotte’s Web, which is high in cannabidiol but low in the THC that creates a euphoric high, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

TALLAHASSEE – The Supreme Court isn’t the only challenge facing a petition drive to put a proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendment on Florida’s 2014 ballot.

Organizers have until Feb. 1 to gather 683,189 voter signatures. As of Tuesday, 162,866 signatures had been certified.

Still, John Morgan of the Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm thinks there’s a good chance a final push will get the effort he’s organizing over the top.

John Sajo

Medical marijuana supporters and foes are eager to find out if they swayed Florida’s Supreme Court justices considering a proposed state ballot referendum. 

As Health News Florida reported Thursday, judges appeared most curious about how the ballot language defined disease and medical conditions. The court must approve the language before it can be placed on the November ballot.

Florida Supreme Court justices who will decide whether medical marijuana will come up for a vote next November kept asking the same question over and over in a hearing Thursday morning:

What is the difference between a "disease" and a "medical condition" (and should the state leave it up to physicians to decide)?

The ballot language -- limited to a brief summary of the six-page amendment --says a "yes" vote would allow "the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases..."  The title would be:  "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions."

The Florida Supreme Court is hearing arguments Thursday on a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes through a constitutional amendment, the Tampa Tribune reports. Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging the ballot’s language on the grounds that it’s misleading. If the justices decide the summary for voters to consider is unclear or inaccurate, it will most likely kill the effort to get the issue on the ballot in 2014.

Person smoking near a window.
Wikimedia Commons

On the issue of medical marijuana, trial attorney John Morgan and Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee offer two very different views. For the Tampa Tribune, columnist Chris Ingram conducted two lengthy interviews with Morgan, who has put more than $1 million of his own money into a campaign to get a constitutional amendment that would allow medical marijuana on the ballot in 2014.

Florida's top legislative leaders are coming out against a push to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz announced Wednesday that they will ask the Florida Supreme Court to block the proposed amendment.

In a memo Gaetz said after consulting with senate staff he had concluded that the medical marijuana amendment would mislead voters.