Parts 1-6, The Medics discusses how our current U.S. cannabis climate requires brave, willing participants to maneuver carefully in accordance with the medical marijuana rules of engagement for each respective state.
Keep in mind that the simultaneous mad dash through the volatile national marijuana minefield starts with a mental, deafening “BANG!“ right across the state line — as is the case between Florida and Alabama. This is also the complicated case in many other U.S. non-medical marijuana use “border states.” An imaginary dotted line on a map prevents U.S. patients in a non-medical marijuana use state from purchasing or using cannabis medication obtained in the neighboring medical marijuana “border state.”
An imaginary line, yet one that is nonetheless diligently patrolled by our very real federal government sitting atop a national guard tower, waiting to see the specifics of how, if, and when marijuana will be removed from the CSA.
- Wondering about the imaginary line— who cares?
The nation collectively hopes that marijuana is indeed concurrently or subsequently re/de-scheduled out of the research-prohibitive Schedule 1 category into the Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 category. At least then, the possibility of therapeutic medicinal value can be researched and scientifically proven, and factual health benefits of marijuana can be officially recorded.
Already, the year shows a direction of solid marijuana reform with Tom Angell’s recent July 31, 2019 announcement that The 116th U.S. Congress is The Most Marijuana-Friendly Congress In History.
Think the feds aren’t watching this cannabis battle? Think again. They are paying attention, slowly formulating bits and pieces of vital international, federal, and state public marijuana policy.
Many Floridians do travel abroad, so be forewarned and informed with A Guide to Traveling with Medical Marijuana. In addition, Curaleaf’s Before your trip: Cannabis laws you should know offers excellent advice for traveling patients:
“When you’re packing your bags to make the most of the season’s long days and warm nights, you naturally want to pack, and eventually consume, your cannabis. Yet even if your personal use of recreational or medical cannabis is permitted in your neck of the woods, there are factors that hinder your ability to legally enjoy it away from home.”
What about regular, store-bought CBD? On May 19, 2019, Calvin Hughes reported The TSA Says You Can Now Bring CBD On Any US Flight. Maybe.
- Curious about the finish line— what’s next?
Parts 7-8 will attempt to illuminate some of these various dark and grey areas about the many businesses, individuals and groups who work diligently in cooperation with the Florida Department of Health and the state’s OMMU, or The Crusaders, as I like to call them.
In a flashback to the May 26, 2017 CNN Business Money report: 10 things to know about legal pot, Aaron Smith boiled down the issues arising from traveling with marijuana: “You can’t take marijuana across state lines. Even when two legal states share a border, as Washington and Oregon do, carrying weed across state lines runs afoul of federal law. Don’t bring it on a plane, and don’t mail it.”
Where is the finish line for this joint dash that is underway nationwide? Does one actually exist? How does the state make it through to this future finish line?
Wherever this actual or imagined end resides, do not transport or travel across any line with marijuana in hand. Not date or time zone lines, not longitudinal or latitidinal lines, not country or state lines.
- Traveling to, from, or in Florida— what’s next?
Robert McGarvey spotlighted international restrictions in his April 16, 2019 informative, entertaining piece How to Cross Borders with Cannabis, Maybe.
Can You Travel Across State Lines with Legally Obtained Marijuana discusses the intrinsic question:
“So, if the drug is legal in one state, can a person travel with it to another state where it may or may not be legal? The answer is almost definitely no. This is true even if the other state also allows for some form of legalized marijuana.
While the federal authorities have made it public that they will be turning a blind eye to these state initiatives and allowing the states to determine how to handle these matters themselves (for now), they have not agreed to stop enforcing the laws where they have jurisdiction. One of those places is in interstate commerce.”
There is a nearly impossible task ahead for a medical marijuana patient who needs to travel with their usual, full range of cannabis medication products in various delivery routes.
- Seasonally Residing in Florida— what’s next?
Daily Business Review’s July 22, 2019, South Florida Condominium Medical Marijuana Rules and Regulations revealed: “Associations, owners and residents are abuzz about restrictions and regulations preventing owners who wish to indulge in smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own apartments or on their balconies.”
Scott Strachan also covered seasonal residency in December 21, 2018 with his Snowbirds traveling with medical marijuana: What to do: “It’s that time of year in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and all of Florida. Snowbirds are returning home to their winter residences to ride out the brutal northern winters.”
CannaMD, outlining marijuana laws from state to state, explains that “This question comes down to federal versus state law.” The feds say it is illegal, but 80% of the U.S. has a medical marijuana use program of some kind operating in their home state.
- Permanently Residing in Florida— what’s next?
Florida has ‘all-time high’ support for recreational pot, but will it be on the ballot? was the marijuana debate discussed by Amy Driscoll and Alex Harris.
The Miami New Times headline on July 31, 2019, With Petition Milestone, Recreational Marijuana Is One Step Closer in Florida, marked a big win overall for marijuana, and the subsequent advancement possibilities for our state’s medical program.
- Attending College in Florida— what’s next?
Even the state’s policymakers have developed a student Wellness Services division, discussing both medical and recreational marijuana use and regulations in a course realizing that “the introduction of medical marijuana has created a new ‘norm’ and has begun influencing social norms and behaviors related to marijuana usage.”
Ultimately, however, in order to make our state program a success, Florida must start the slow process of turning on all the lights in the pitch-dark collective cannabis closet.
- Prevalence of Random Student Drug Testing in the US— what’s next?
“Recent national estimates indicate that 14 percent of U.S. public school districts conducted random drug testing in at least one of their high schools during the 2004–2005 school year (Ringwalt et al. 2008), and since 2003, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) has operated a grant program to support MRSDT programs in schools.”
- Watching the Medical Marijuana Model in Florida— who’s affected?
As long as marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance on the federal CSA, it is my opinion that the lstate has a responsibility to disseminate the endless gossip, memorable anecdotes, and factual information in a way that is both: (1) user-friendly for the general public and (2) update-friendly for medical marijuana ulsers and physicians.
Due to the barrage of daily news received by Florida’s public, patients, and physicians, it is not suprising that we’re all operating in the dark on this issue.
At least the state and its Floridians are in this battle together. We all win a marijuana reform battle in the larger drug war, regardless of where, when, or in what form that future finish line might appear. LEARN– CannaMD medical marijuana research studies.
- Thinking about purchasing illegal marijuana in Florida— what’s the reason for Black Market supply-and-demand?
“The supply-and-demand model provides the basic economic framework for drug policy. Efforts to provide economic models of illegal markets go back at least four decades (e.g., Becker, 1968), but the standard economic model has key limitations in understanding illegal drug markets. The implicit features of many legal markets in modern economies—for example, quality certification and available legal mechanisms to guard against fraud—are typically absent from illegal drug markets, also characterized by complex features, such as high search costs (so that consumers must invest time in finding information about the product) that are sometimes found in legal markets but that are difficult to incorporate in simple models.“
According to NORML of Florida, here’s a reason why people are still buying weed from their drug dealer and not their local dispensary.
- Wondering about The Crusaders in Florida— who’s involved?
The Crusaders in Florida’s medical marijuana program offer a light at the end of the proverbial treatment tunnel. Let’s take time here to illuminate who and what exactly I’m discussing in relation to the myriad of people fighting for Florida patients.
They are a large-scale joint task force, comprised of the following unique state parts and connected to the overarching national medical marijuana debate:
- Florida’s State and Local Dispensaries
- Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use
- Florida Department of Cannabis
- Florida Department of Health
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Florida’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee
- Florida Department of Transportation
- Florida Dispensary– Management
- Florida Dispensary- Employees
- CME Physicians
- MMTC Staff
ALL of these parties must work together to form a cohesive consensus on the option of using medical marijuana as viable, state-sanctioned, therapeutic treatment and safer alternative to many experiencing daily pain. Consensus is a monumentally difficult task due to the existing patchwork of state and federal laws.
In this battle for cannabis rights, it is imperative that organizations and legislators and administrators work together with The Medics of this marijuana movement and The Front Lines of patients.
Florida is seemingly getting closer to the final state stretch in the nationwide marijuana battle and is trying to cross that proverbial finish line armed with a clear and workable state program in hand.
My hope is that the reader — the cannabis patient, physician, health professional, advocate, or businessperson is flanked with more knowledge about this marijuana madness than when we first started Lighting Up together.
The state of Florida is clearly not aiming for first place, necessarily, but striving to be better. Even if that equals a second place finish.
Predominantly, our Florida state medical marijuana program must strive to have the best possible program we can achieve by working together as an energetic, creative choir of informed and involved individuals. “The People’s Choice Award“ would be the optimal commendation for Florida.
All must maneuver the legal landscape together in the present, day to day — from Florida state legislators at the top, down to the Health and Agriculture Departments, down to the Director of Cannabis, down to the newly-formed Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee and its 18 individual members.
Eventually, the state hopes that the efforts of our collective, cooperative, cannabis community will trickle down to the inquisitive medical marijuana crop scientists, cultivators, harvesters, and experienced lab technicians for each one of the twelve licensed cannabis dispensaries.
Florida’s state model must consider whether these hopes ultimately seep all the way down to the medical marijuana patient population, in addition to infiltrating the professional population.
Florida’s fledgling medical marijuana program must keep a clear therapeutic, not capitalistic, vision in mind. A vision to make medical marijuana available, accessible, and more affordable to all those in need within Florida.
What might be next in the future of the state medical marijuana program? Even at the heart of the current darkness, the Florida Medical Marijuana program imagines a very near, bright future of delivering the best version of a marijuana program. It is a future driven by innovation and inquisitiveness about cannabis medicine. The best is yet to come indeed.
The state must rework and revisit the program’s existing solid frame pieces, ultimately rebuilding the Florida model with updated, workable, regulatory concensus on medical marijuana’s value as a therapeutic substance, not an illicit one.
You read correctly. We must first try to change the context on a national level, change up the existing marijuana battle strategy to have intelligent discourse on a natural herb as medical, rather than to dwell on our current collective context that cannabis = evil.
Yes, we need standard operating procedures at the national level, along with accompanying tax and banking frameworks, but first we must reassess our national ability to effectively shift the black market of marijuana to a legal market. The U.S. must first recognize the intense national medical marijuana momentum that is steadily building, with states like Florida playing a small, supporting role.
On July 17, 2019, the U.S. learned that a California government report finds regulators are unable to fully oversee the state’s marijuana market, as detailed in John Schroyer’s article for Marijuana Business Daily:
“A new audit by California’s Department of Finance found regulators have a long way to go before they have a solid handle on the state’s cannabis industry. The report concluded – despite having established a ‘structural foundation’ for managing the legal marijuana industry – the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC)’s ‘current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities.'”
Perhaps desperately needed federal research is a decisive factor in the recent announcement that US growing largest crop of marijuana for research in 5 years, Carla K. Johnson reported on July 11, 2019. The question about prevalent federal marijuana research is consciously on the minds of residents, travelers, and cannabis converts alike.
Brendan Bures tackles this issue on July 15, 2019 with Is The Federal Government Finally Serious About Marijuana Research: “A long-gestating back-and-forth between scientists, cannabis advocates, and legislators has been the paucity of marijuana research. Lawmakers at the state and federal level have both referenced a lack of scientific literature around medical cannabis as reason not to push through reform.”
After revisiting and reassessing intrinsic policy issues and existing frameworks, this Green Wave momentum can effectively, if slowly, shift the context in which we discuss and think about marijuana in our everyday current culture. Or at least veer it off in a marijuana-friendly direction.
This change in strategy, to shift the overall marijuana discussion, could ultimately serve to win the national war on what we consider to be “drugs.” The U.S. must reassess what options exist for natural medicinal alternatives to the societally-acceptable pharmaceutical drugs.
Included first and foremost in that list of nationwide natural and safer treatment options should be medical marijuana.
To this end, we must revisit past policy in order to this to inform our actions in the race to a cannabis consensus. To begin understanding how and why the context must serve to form new public policy surrounding the cannabis plant: Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs.
B.A.Ed., M.A, University of West Florida
Non-Profit Founder: Allman Education, medicalcannabis101.org
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
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