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Fleming Island Senator Wants To Allow Dying Floridians To Use Marijuana

cannabis bud
Ryan Bushby
Wikimedia Commons

Medical marijuana legalization may be heading back to the ballot in Florida next year. An initiative would allow patients to smoke or ingest cannabis in several forms.

At the same time, Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) is pushing a more narrowly tailored proposal aimed at giving relief only to the sickest people.

“It’s really the difference between approaching the issue with a surgical scalpel versus a sledge hammer," Bradley says. "The constitutional amendment process is a sledge hammer. It imposes a one-size-fits-all solution on an issue that really involves more nuance.”

Bradley  is sponsoring the bill along with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R- Fort Walton Beach).

“And we don’t want to repeat the mistakes that other states have made, so I think it’s appropriate for the Legislature to get involved,” Bradley says.

Two years ago, the pair authored the so-called “Charlotte’s Web law” allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis, as long as it’s low in THC, the chemical that causes a high, and is eaten, not smoked.

Parents of children with seizures were begging for relief, Bradley remembers. But after it became law, many constituents wanted to know why their terminally ill relatives couldn’t get the same medicine.

“And I really did not have a good answer,” Bradley says.

The new proposal would add non-smoked cannabis to the list of drugs allowed under the state’s "right-to-try" law, which was passed last year. That’s the statute allowing dying people to try experimental drugs. The proposal would still prohibit the use of smoked marijuana, but it would allow terminally ill patients, with the approval of doctors, to eat cannabis with any level of THC.

Bradley’s bill goes before the Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP