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FAMU's medical marijuana education program takes flack from lawmakers

TALLAHASEE, Fla. – FAMU’s minority medical marijuana education program came under tough scrutiny from lawmakers Thursday morning. 

The program has had a difficult time explaining how it has spent its funding. 

This was the second time FAMU’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative presented to lawmakers. Patricia Green-Powell, the program's new director, tried to focus on the positives.

“Forty-one events across Florida have netted over 20,000 participants,” Green-Powell said.

Lawmakers were quick to cut to the chase. The program has been fraught with concerns over how it’s spent state money.

FAMU was given $2.1 million for the education program in August. Weeks later, the Department Of Health stopped requiring the university to report how it was spending the money.

The university now filling the primary oversight role didn’t sit well with lawmakers like Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Florida).

“The program just runs whichever way?” Gibson asked.

“No. There's oversight with our office of compliance,” Green-Powell responded.

Glory Brown, the director of FAMU's Office of Sponsored Programs, said the university would be open to more oversight from the state.

“Our records are open. They're available. We have a Department of Compliance. We have the audit. We do regular meetings monthly, and we adhere to any request,” Brown said.

Senate Budget Chair Rob Bradley wouldn’t specify exactly what part of the program’s budget concerned him most.

“The entire program brings concern to me,” Bradley said.

Financial information presented to lawmakers showed salaries make up more than 75% of the program’s $1.4 million expenditures.

FAMU says it’s satisfied with progress that has been made with the education program. Fourteen research projects through the program are in their early stages.