Plans resurface to create marijuana research board in Tampa

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TAMPA, Fla. – After two years, plans have resurfaced to create a marijuana research board at a cancer center in Tampa.

The project was unable to move because of inaction by the Department of Health. That’s about to change, however, under the lead of Florida's new governor.

In the two years that the Medical Marijuana Research and Education Board has been in existence, it’s given out just two grants totaling $150,000. Last year lawmakers authorized $1.75 million for the board.

Dr. Tom Sellers is the board's director.

“We were supposed to be supported from funding from the state, which was pointed out earlier, through a collection of fees from the growers," Sellers said.

The Department of Health didn’t adopt rules to make the funding available to the board.

“For year two, we did not receive any money," said Sellers.

The Department of Health has been under constant pressure from lawmakers who say it deliberately slowed down things related to marijuana use.

“I think this is a little bit of collateral damage within that discussion," said Moffitt Legislative Affairs Director Jamie Wilson.

Senate President Bill Galvano said that’s about to change.

“We have a commitment that the department is moving forward and taking the necessary steps, so we’ve included the funding, the $1.8 million that was at issue, and hopefully we will have more research," said Galvano.

Researchers caution that if lawmakers want information, they’ll have to provide a steady stream of funding.

The research board is made up of researchers from five hospitals across the state.

This past year, it planned to award four research projects, but had to put them on hold because of the lack of funding.