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Groups push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, despite killed bill

5:00 PM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A state Senate bill that proposed to legalize medical marijuana in Florida died in the health committee last legislative session, but the movement to legalize is still going strong.

State senator Jeff Clemens in Lake Worth introduced Senate Bill 1250, a bill that would have gone into effect this July 1st and would allow a qualified patient to use medical marijuana in Florida.

The 2013 session ended and the bill was never discussed. Still, activist groups such as United For Care Campaign are pushing to put medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot. However, Dr. Thomas Burnakis at Baptist Medical Center said legalization is difficult because research is limited.

"Marijuana, specifically medical marijuana, suffers from the fact that it is an illegal substance, given that, very little good research has been done," said Dr. Burnakis.

In states where medical marijuana is legal, users have a license or registry card to obtain it. Patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV, among other conditions, say it helps with treatment.

"It's nausea and vomiting, pain from chronic spasticity, particularly multiple sclerosis or many of the muscle diseases where people have been able to find relief," said Dr. Burnakis.

There are existing medications that contain the THC ingredient in marijuana that are legal in the U.S. These are in pill form, but like medical marijuana, Burnakis said physicians treat them as a last resort.

"This is an agent whether by prescription or by illegal use that you use when everything else has failed," said Dr. Burnakis.

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