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Updated: 07/11/2014 09:24:03AM

Medical marijuana is topic for State Rep

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Courtesy photo / Lorraine Hutchins

Pictured, left to right, are Sara Carnes Costello, Nurse Practitioner Florida Hospital; State Representative Cary Pigman; Libby Maxwell, District Secretary; Lake Placid Noon Rotary Club president C.B Brewer; Bryan Mielke, Assistant to Rep. Pigman


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State Representative Dr. Cary Pigman spoke about the Charlotte’s Web bill which legalizes strains of marijuana for medical use. That variety of maijuana is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that produces a high.

An estimated 125,000 children in Florida suffer from severe epilepsy and their families lobbied hard to persuade reluctant legislators to open the door to limited use, Pigman said. It also could be used by adults. Authorized patients will be allowed access to the drug through oil or vapor form, but it may not be smoked.

Pigman said the bill was amended at the ninth hour to stiffen licensing requirements so that only a select few Florida nursery owners with businesses in operation for 30 continuous years will be allowed to grow “Charlotte’s Web.”

Florida physicians authorized to order this strain of medical marijuana can start writing prescriptions Jan 1. It will be sold through dispensaries licensed by the state Department of Health. Most of the Republican leadership in the Legislature opposed the rival constitutional ballot initiative, as does the Florida Sheriff’s Association, Florida Medical Association –– and Pigman. Many speculate that the Legislature agreed to pass the low-THC proposal to squash voter interest in passing the amendment, which opponents believe will lead to the total legalization of marijuana.

This bill authorizes specified physicians to order low-THC cannabis for use by specified patients, provides conditions, prohibits specified acts by physicians or persons seeking low-THC cannabis, and requires physician education.

Pigman also spoke about changes to sexual felony offender sentencing guidelines. Those convicted of certain serious sex offenses will see the court impose a split sentence in which an offender convicted of specified sexual offenses is sentenced to two years of community supervision after serving his or her term of imprisonment, and creates a new sentencing multiplier for specified adult-on-minor sexual offenses.

Florida has sent a message to sexually violent predators that they are not welcome in our state, Pigman said.