While we all sit on our shaking hands waiting to see if either the Legislature or the voting public (the ones who'll be voting in the general election in 2016, at least) come to their senses and actually legalize medicinal marijuana, the wayward weaving of the already approved Charlotte's Web strain of cannabis – the Legislature approved the low-THC, don't-get-high version for children in 2014 – continues to be a source of regulatory confusion. At issue, beyond the fact that only five nurseries will be allowed to cultivate and dispense the medicine in Florida, is the fact that the law doesn't quite mitigate the differences between state and federal laws on illegal drugs.
Though the Florida Department of Health has been generally supportive of the almost-weed, the law – which was a clear attempt by conservatives to distract from last year's medical marijuana amendment that gained nearly 58 percent of the state's votes – has faced judicial challenges for all the hoops growers need to jump through and for some bad verbiage.
Last week, according to political website Saint Petersblog, director of the Office of Compassionate Use (!) Patricia Nelson negotiated for a mind-numbing 25 hours with advocates, growers and medical professionals in order to come up with a new set of guidelines to make Charlotte's Web really happen. The gist of the convoluted outcome of said discussions is that there will be a new scorecard to determine which nurseries get to become growers, and that scorecard can be influenced by bottom-up regulation (meaning it won't have to go back to the Legislature; nurseries can boost their scores by just being more awesome in the twinkling eyes of regulators, and nobody has to know). The sticking (sticky?) point that remains is whether nurseries should be allowed to operate as dual entities – that is, nurseries and dispensaries that can both grow and sell the substance. Nelson chided the growers who thought they should be able to bifurcate, despite a November legal ruling to the contrary.
"Plus the agency does not encourage me to do something that I feel is not legal," she said. "I cannot fix what is a conundrum by doing something that is invalid. I cannot do it."