Libertarian Party of Florida candidate for Attorney General Bill Wohlsifer publically thanked Speaker Weatherford yesterday for placing the House version of what is commonly referred to as the “Charlotte’s Web” bill (HB 843) on the calendar, in the 9th inning yesterday. “If approved, Charlotte’s Web can bring relief to 125,000 children in Florida who suffer seizures from intractable epilepsy,” said Wohlsifer. “We have a unique opportunity to help children as the state Senate has wisely realized.” The bill is highly restrictive and will a small number of Floridians, especially in relation to Florida's Amendment 2 which will be on the ballot this November for Florida voters to decide. Amendment 2 is more expansive in the number of potential patients the cannabis plant will help if passed by at least sixty percent of the voters. Wohlsifer would have preferred to see a more expansive bill passed by the Florida legislature, such as the bill he wrote, the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act.
Wohlsifer, supports Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment that will legalize the use of medical marijuana in Florida, said he believed that the “Charlotte’s Web” bill had enough bipartisan support to pass the House if the Speaker would post it for a vote. Yesterday, Wohlsifer was proven correct and the legislation is headed back to Senate with a “message” – a statement of the action taken on the bill in the House on the 59th day of the 60 day legislative session. Today, May 2, 2014, the Florida legislature passed the bill and now it is on its way to Florida Governor Rick Scott's desk for his signature to make it law. He said this past Thursday that he will sign the bill.
Charlotte’s Web refers to a non-euphoric strain of the cannabis plant. The Senate version, CS/CS/SB 1030, received overwhelming approval on April 28, 2014 (36-3). Following certification in the Rules Committee Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, filed a House amendment to CS/CS/SB 1030, but Gaetz withdrew the amendment the next day, and another amendment by Matt Caldwell, R – Lehigh Acres, if ultimately approved, will add a “highly restrictive, anti-competitive” requirement to the bill according to Wohlsifer.
The Caldwell amendment requires that in order to qualify as a dispensing organization for the non-euphoric strain of cannabis, the applicant must demonstrate that it already possess a valid certificate of registration issued by the Department of Ag for the cultivation of more than 400,000 plants and that it has been continually operating as a registered nursery in Florida for at least the past 30 years.
“There is no rational basis for such an unprecedented requirement of three decades in the cultivation business to grow a simple grass. This is a blatant attempt to stifle free market competition in what is soon be the fastest growing industry in Florida,” Wohlsifer claims. “Crony capitalism is at work in the Sunshine State. The handful of nurseries that will be the only entities allowed to participate in growing this low-level THC strain of cannabis will be purposefully positioned with the first-mover advantage to corner the marijuana cultivation, processing and distribution markets when Amendment 2 passes in November, which will mandate the growth of large assortment of cannabis sativa plants. Clearly, this bill, which was championed under the guise of helping the children, is a really a power-play at the market share for Florida’s future marijuana and industrial hemp businesses,” said Wohlsifer. There is no other logical explanation; surely, we do not need to demonstrate the ability to harvest two million plants to create an oil to drop under the tongues of 125,000 children.”
“Gaetz, along with Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, were the first to file a low-level THC bill in this year’s legislative session, HB 843, and with good intentions, Wohlsifer continued. The original bill was one-page long.” The metamorphosis of this legislation from compassionate use to big business is exactly the reason you need to elect a watchdog Attorney General in November. The same legislature that tabled four other real marijuana bills and falsely labeled this quasi-pharmaceutical bill a “marijuana bill” is composed of the same legislature that the voters will trust to implement the will of the voters when it comes time to create law to implement the rollout of Amendment 2. As Attorney General, I will represent the will of the people when implementing Amendment 2, given that opportunity,” Wohlsifer concludes.