Issues persist with Florida's medical marijuana rollout

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s been nearly two year’s since state lawmakers passed the law implementing medical marijuana, but significant concerns remain over a lack of research, licesnses and in state growers.

Of the 185,000 active patients four out of ten are prescribed medical marijuana for chronic pain. One out of five prescriptions are written for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

21 growers licenses should have been issued by now, but only 14 actually have. Cannabis advocates, like Jodi James with the Florida Cannabis Action Network, say that’s hurting patients.

“Is the patient getting access to the best possible products for the best possible price, and until this program (has) fully evolved, the answer to that is no,” James said.

Only four of the licenses are still held by Florida companies and most have been sold. Growers licenses have sold for as much as $80 million, yet three license holders haven’t dispensed a single product.

“It's largely out of state companies that are doing this,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-Florida). "There's product shortages, there's problems, there's companies that aren't growing, they're hoarding their licenses. It's not about patients. We need to make this about patients, and we need to make it about research.”

However, there are problems on the research end as well. No funding has reached Moffitt Cancer Center for eight proposed studies and federal laws make any clinical trials difficult.

“This board will not and is not able to do any sort of studies on any sort of product that is grown here in the state of Florida,” said Jamie Wilson with Moffitt Cancer Center.

It’s not clear what, if any, legislative fixes may be proposed.