As lawmakers struggle to carry out a voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized marijuana for a broad swath of patients with debilitating conditions, a prominent senator is backing a proposal that would create a medical cannabis research hub at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican slated to become Senate president after the 2018 elections, is sponsoring the proposal, which would create the "Coalition for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Education" at Tampa's Moffitt Center.
The program would conduct "rigorous scientific research" and educate the public, as well as the medical community, about marijuana treatment.
"Right now, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting the positive benefits medicinal cannabis can have on patients in certain circumstances, but this legislation will help the state of Florida advance the science and research around cannabis as a treatment option for a variety of medical conditions," Galvano said in a statement.
Nearly 72 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that allowed doctors to order marijuana for an array of conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
The amendment gave the Department of Health until July to craft rules and three more months to put the rules into effect.
In the meantime, lawmakers are expected to provide guidelines to the health agency by passing legislation during the annual session that begins Tuesday.