CLR is pleased to announce we have a new correspondent reporting regularly from the front lines in Florida. We rarely see informed and investigative articles either from the Florida press or law firms so we’re very pleased indeed to have Heather onboard to guide us through the complexities of what’s happening in the state. In this, her first article for CLR, she highlights for us who’s who and what’s what with regard to medical cannabis in the state. If you intend to work in Florida we’d suggest her work is a must read to start understanding what’s happening there.
Lighting Up Florida’s Medical Marijuana PEOPLE: The Front Lines
For those of you in the dark about Florida’s Medical Marijuana Program, I will be lighting up the dim corners of Florida: The Nation’s Fastest-Growing Medical Marijuana Market, according to The Miami New Times on May 2, 2019.
- First and foremost, I’ll highlight the patient perspective, patients like myself who are legally registered State of Florida Medical Marijuana active ID cardholders. I am a medical patient in Florida’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry due my qualifying condition: a 2010 diagnosis of aggressive Multiple Sclerosis.
Luckily for me, Florida passed constitutional Amendment 2 in November 2016 which allows Multiple Sclerosis, along with many other chronic and debilitating qualifying conditions as eligible for compassionate care, meaning diagnosed patients would be allowed by Florida to receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a qualified Florida physician and products from a licensed Florida dispensary; these dispensaries must strictly adhere to Florida’s seed-to-shelf vertical integration business model.
As for me, one minute I’m teaching as usual for the University of West Florida as I had every day for the past thirteen years, and the next, my life was abruptly and irrevocably disrupted that hot day in August when my vision began fading on the periphery and my left side began feeling numb, clumsy, unusable. The rest is, well, my everyday present.
I am a legal Florida medical marijuana patient since January 2017, as well as a patient educator and vocal advocate. Since then, my quality of life has increased dramatically, both mentally and physically. Even my doctors and specialists are amazed at my progress!
As such, I am representative of the face of medical marijuana in Florida, one of 234,204 qualified active patients with ID cards as of June 21, 2019. Did I mention that we only have 2,321 of those “Florida qualified physicians” for the ever-expanding lot of us? Whew!
There is some help in sight, though. In May 2019, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried announced that a newly-created and appointed Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee of 18 doctors, lawyers, patients, industry leaders, and advocates will be implemented in order to “advance and modernize policies” to move Florida into the future of medical marijuana.
Fried also strongly delivered a message that could have been taken straight out of my own mouth: “This is a plant that not only improves people’s quality of life, it’s an alternative to sometimes-dangerous pharmaceuticals and addictive opioids.” She further directly advises that cannabis, or marijuana, is a medicine that an overwhelming majority of Floridians voted for and are constitutionally guaranteed access to as a therapeutic medicine.
I know. I used to be a pharmaceutical statistic of opiate and controlled substance pain medications, alongside 25 other Multiple Sclerosis symptom-fighting medications for seven long years..
But triumphantly, since 2019, we now have exciting cannabis news exploding on the front lines every day as Florida boldly moves into their future of medical marijuana. From the June announcement that edibles are finally beginning production and sales in Florida, to the March passage into law of the legality of a patient’s rights to smokable cannabis flower, all the way to the quest for SOPs for equipment, labs, and dispensaries to facilitate the evolution and stabilization of consistency, safety, and efficacy in both products and in patient access and affordability by a brave new Advisory Committee.
If Florida plans to increase its medical marijuana program through new legislative policies and marijuana dispensary standardized procedures, how exactly do we attempt to accomplish this?
Florida plans to help close the existing gaps and get patients and the state across the existing, prohibitive Drug War bridges, with Florida’s appointment of a 2019 inaugural group:
- 18 Member Medical Marijuana Advisory who will collaborate with the Florida Department of Agriculture to help improve the state’s medical marijuana regulations and policies through membership by the following individuals:
- Kim Rivers
Rivers serves as the CEO of Trulieve and has 12 years of experience running successful businesses from real estate to finance as well as years in private practice as a lawyer, specializing in mergers, acquisitions, and securities for multi-million dollar companies.
- Barry Gordon, MD
Gordon is one of Florida’s most experienced medical cannabis providers. He is the owner and Chief Medical Officer of the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic.
- David Kotler
Kotler is a partner in Cohen Kotler P.A. and is Of Counsel to Hoban Law Group in Denver, Colorado, where he’s worked on legal issues pertaining to cannabis and hemp.
- Dr. Michelle Weiner
Dr. Weiner is certified in Interventional Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She researches substituting cannabis for opioids in chronic pain management at Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University.
- Zachary Kobrin
Kobrin has served as General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer for a multinational cannabis company and Florida MMTC and currently advises cannabis and hemp industry clients on legal, regulatory and business development issues.
- Dan Russell
As an attorney with Dean, Mead & Dunbar, Russell represented one of the initial cannabis dispensing organizations in Florida and continues to represent clients involved in all aspects of legal cannabis.
- Dr. David B. Corn
Dr. Corn specializes in podiatry and founded Western Massachusetts Podiatry Associates, PC. He was one of the first medical professionals certified to participate in the Massachusetts medical marijuana program.
- Cameron Vance, Ph.D.
Dr. Vance is co-founder and Chief Information Officer at Medical Marijuana Treatment Clinics of Florida where he works with physicians and patients to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.
- Sally Kent Peebles
Peebles is a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP, a national firm specializing in cannabis law and policy. She practiced with the firm in Denver, Colorado before returning to Florida to open the firm’s Jacksonville office.
- Jacel Delgadillo
Delgadillo, whose son suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a catastrophic form of epilepsy, co-founded the federal nonprofit CannaMoms to help other children like hers and raise awareness on the benefits of medical cannabis.
- Eric Stevens
Stevens worked to legalize medical marijuana in Massachusetts before helping to lead the 2014 and 2016 efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. He is currently the Director of Business Development at Kaycha Group, which owns and operates EVIO Labs Florida, ISO accredited cannabis testing labs, and the MJ Buddy App.
- Mike Smuts
Smuts is a cannabis industry professional with operations leadership experience across all divisions of several vertically integrated businesses in Colorado and Florida.
- Ron Watson
Watson founded a full-service governmental affairs firm focused on healthcare and medical cannabis. He is also the Director of Governmental Relations for MuV, a Florida-based medical cannabis company and was recently the Executive Director of the Florida Society of Cannabis Physicians, which closed after losing its bank.
- Antoinette Duncan
Duncan is the President and CEO of Duncan Life Sciences. She has 13 years of experience working with top pharmaceutical, medical device, and cannabis companies, and is currently a member of the ASTM D37 Technical Committee for Cannabis and Minorities for Medical Marijuana.
15, Peter Barsoom
Prior to founding 1906, an edibles company, Barsoom had an extensive career in finance and business strategy, holding senior management positions at leading institutions including American Express, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, BlueMountain Capital and Intercontinental Exchange. He serves on the board of numerous leading cannabis industry associations including the Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado Leads, and the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association.
- Paul Messer
Messer is a Parkinson’s Disease patient who is retired from the contract furniture industry and holds a master’s degree in social work.
- Karen Seeb Goldstein
Goldstein serves as the Executive Director of NORML of and Vice Chairman of Regulate Florida.
18, Elaine Geller
Geller is the Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Amercanex, a member of the Congressional Cannabis Coalition, and of CanLab. Geller’s work focuses on cannabis policy development at the state and federal levels.
This Committee is part of Florida’s Cannabis >Medical Marijuana Division in the Department of Agriculture. The Committee will convene telephonically and in-person bimonthly to develop ways and methods to expand patient access and affordability, increase innovation and technology within the cannabis industry, and to make recommendations to the Legislature and the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU)
Who will organize and oversee this committee, you ask?
- Florida Director of Cannabis: Meet Florida’s New Director of Cannabis: Holly Bell
- Read her RESUME here from February 2019
- Meet Florida’s “Mother of Marijuana” interview on May 2, 2019
Who will this committee make recommendations to other than the Florida State Legislature? Who else is listening intently?
This Office is part of Florida’s Department of Health.
Who will appoint, amend, manage and provide oversight to this Advisory Committee, the Director of Cannabis, and to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use?
- Department of Florida Agriculture: Meet Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Nicole “Nikki” Fried and Shelby Scarpa, Florida Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture
References: Department of Agriculture press releases in Sunshine State News, The Miami New Herald, Florida Politico, and the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Fresh From Florida News
Coming Soon Article: Lighting Up Florida’s Medical Marijuana PEOPLE: The Medics
B.A.Ed., M.A, University of West Florida
Non-Profit Founder: Allman Education, medicalcannabis101.org
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Twitter and Instagram: @allmaneducation
Linked In: http://linked.in/in/heatherjallman
Heather Allman Biography
Heather has worked in the education, writing, and textbook reviewing industries for 22 years. For over a decade, Heather worked for the State of Florida as a multidisciplinary Faculty Instructor at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida in the English, Communication Arts, and Honors Departments. During this time, she presented at the 1998 American Literature Association Annual Conference and she regularly contributed to and reviewed textbooks for such publishers as Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Longman, Pearson, Prentice-Hall, Contemporary Learning and Thomson-Wadsworth.
When no existing professors volunteered for the monumental task, Heather pioneered the burgeoning online course program for the University of West Florida after training on 2 separate course platforms. She began by creating content and curriculum for Professional Writing courses which enrolled 100 students per semester in conjunction with the English Department, and she eventually executed a hybrid 50 student course in Interpersonal Communication jointly with the Communication Arts Department which required an in-person, live public speaking conponent in addition to their required online coursework: a new online course framework completely designed by Heather for the University.
After early retirement from UWF due to her diagnosis of aggressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2010, Heather became an independent Medical Cannabis researcher, educator, personal consultant, and vocal advocate. She also worked with Florida For Care as a Northwest Florida Outreach Coordinator, gathering petition signatures for the 2016 Florida Constitutional Ammendment 2 that overwhelmingly legalized medical marijuana throughout the state for patients like Heather.
Since 2014, she has worked tirelessly to advocate, educate, and raise awareness about medical cannabis and its therapeutic medicinal use over standard pharmaceuticals. Heather currently works as a medical cannabis researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and community outreach liaison. She actively participates with the efforts of the U.S. Pain Foundation, the Florida Cannabis Advocacy Network, Americans for Safe Access, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership.
In 2018, Heather subsequently founded Florida’s first independent non-profit medical marijuana educational website Allman Education: <MedicalCannabis101.org> in order to educate, spread awareness, and illuminate Florida’s complex legal medical marijuana rules, news, and regulations in her unique radically honest, audience adaptive, well-rounded manner. She is a passion-driven, inquisitive listener and adept interviewer with the goal of starting a medical cannabis podcast in the near future.
She works as a volunteer with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s “Walk MS” annual campaign to fundraise and always participates in the walk in April. Heather also acts as a Junior Pain Ambassador with the U.S. Pain Foundation, a national chronic pain advocacy organization, with their “End Pain. Not Lives.” campaign.
She operates on the principle of radical compassion in her daily life and practices what she deems “Medical Marijuana C.A.R.E.” in that she strives to Communicate, Advocate, Relate, and Educate both the community and the general public in all that she endeavors.