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With passage of Amendment 2, will current medical marijuana system work?

Sen. Brandes: 'The cartel system that we have today is not sustainable'

Cannabis industry booming in Florida.
Cannabis industry booming in Florida.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Seven growers currently are licensed to produce, distribute and sell medical marijuana in Florida, but after 6 million people approved Amendment 2 in November, lawmakers must decide if the system will meet the needs of thousands of new patients.

Cathy Jordan, who lives with ALS, has been advocating for medical marijuana for nearly 30 years.

“I’m 67,” she said. “I was supposed to be dead at 41.”

The group Jordan founded, the Cannabis Action Network, is now poised to be a player in enacting voters’ wishes when they approved the medical marijuana amendment.

“And I think the decisions that are going to be made over the next 60 days are gonna decide if patients can live and stay in Florida, or whether they are going to have to move or die,” said Jodi James, of the Florida Cannabis Action Network.

The seven growers licensed to cultivate, distribute and sell medical marijuana have hired lobbyists to beat back free-market legislation filed by state Sen. Jeff Brandes.
 
“The cartel system that we have today is not sustainable,” said Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. “And ultimately, it will produce an increase in the black market if you simply have a cartel with high prices and a monopoly.”

Michael Visher, a pot pioneer in Colorado, is pitching jobs and more jobs by opening the market.

“So you give mom and pop an opportunity to open a store that employs five to 10 people and you open up 100 or 200 of these businesses throughout the state -- now you’ve created significant financial impact,” said Visher, of U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical.
 
The fight isn’t just over who can sell medical marijuana, but what exactly they can sell.

Most of Florida’s law enforcement is opposing smokeable marijuana. They also want prohibitions on candies and other edibles. But many patients feel the promise of Amendment 2 will go up in smoke if there are too many regulations in place.

Under the amendment, the state has until September -- nine months after the amendment took effect -- to have rules in place. If the state fails to do so, individual citizens can go to court to force their access to medical marijuana.