Lots of things grow well in the Florida sunshine: oranges, the Everglades and cannabis all come to mind. Unfortunately, a proposed medical marijuana ballot measure currently collecting signatures doesn't allow home growing whatsoever.
Instead, medicine would be produced and sold solely through state-licensed retail stores.
Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the proposal, says the decision was made in an attempt to get more voters on board with the plan. He says that laws in other states like Oregon, California and Colorado have been abused by growers looking to sell their cannabis on the black market.
"We are trying to be pretty meticulous in setting a real system for the distribution of medical marijuana,'' he told the Tampa Bay Times. "We want a tightly controlled system.''
He also tells the Times that Florida law only allows constitutional amendments to be on one subject. Apparently growing your own medical cannabis is too far off-topic when discussing medical cannabis in Florida.
If the ballot measure is approved, it would charge the state health department with coming up with new rules and licensing procedures for the centers as well as for patients. All of that would have to happen within nine months of the bill passing. The bill does not set any possession limits, that would be left to the state health department.
As we reported, the petition was approved last week. The group pushing it, United For Care, are funded by Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has said he will continue to fund the campaign to help it pass.
The ballot measure is currently in the signature-collecting stage, and the group needs 700,000 for the measure to qualify for the November 2012 ballot. You can check out the petition at www.unitedforcare.org.
While it would be a huge step forward in policy for Florida, we here at Toke think they are selling themselves short. Home cultivation of this plant is an integral part of it being such an accessible and low-cost therapy for so many people. While we fully support dispensary programs as well, patients should have the option to grow their own at home.