Florida Medical Marijuana Bill Becomes Law

A law allowing limited use of a special strain of marijuana prescribed to treat epileptic seizures and other diseases was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday. The measure passed with bipartisan support after parents seeking access to a form of marijuana named “Charlotte’s Web” appealed to state lawmakers.

“As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer,” Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. “I am proud to stand today with families who deserve the ability to provide their children with the best treatment available.”

The law, entitled the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014,” puts significant constraints on marijuana sales, but allows use of the drug for people suffering from epilepsy, cancer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The bill also appropriates $1 million for research in medical uses of marijuana.

The Charlotte’s Web substance made legal under this bill is not for smoking and is specially cultivated to be very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the element that creates the “high.” The drug was named after a girl whose epileptic seizures have shown a response to the drug. Production of this substance is limited to a few growers at nurseries that have been in business for 30 years or longer. After Jan. 1, 2015, doctors will be allowed to prescribe low-THC marijuana treatment for state residents with epilepsy, cancer, and afflictions causing “seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.”

Senate bills 1030 and 1700, also nicknamed the “Charlotte’s Web bill” were both signed. The law is unrelated to a more expansive medical marijuana referendum, Amendment 2, which was up for vote in November. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have some form of laws that permit use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, although they vary widely, according to a Florida legislative analysis. Access in Florida will be more limited than in states such as Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana has been legalized.