medical marijuana

Greene on ganja: Are the kids alright?

IMG_0236Jeff Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire who this week joined a crowded slate of Democrats seeking to replace Gov. Rick Scott, shared his thoughts about marijuana with Truth or Dara during a lengthy interview that included some chit-chat about Willie Nelson and air pods.

(Spoiler alert: He’s a fan of both the musician and the technology).

On medical marijuana, Greene’s got the same take as his competitors, who’ve all come out in support of allowing patients to smoke their treatment.

But the father of three young boys is on the fence about flat-out legalization of recreational pot. Greene says he wants more data about what’s happened in other states that have legalized marijuana before he decides.

Saying he “always likes to learn from other people,” Greene wants to look at states such as Colorado, where recreational has been legal for more than a minute.

Greene’s biggest worry is his three young sons, who are now ages four, six and eight.

“They grow up so quickly. When I think of recreational marijuana being legal, I just imagine my son in four or five years,” said Greene.

Perhaps his 13-year-old son is visiting a friend and comes across “a pack of marijuana cigarettes” left around the house by a relative or friend, Greene posited.

“Is he going to say, hey, let’s try this,” Greene wondered.

“So the biggest worry I have is, again, as a father with young children, and someone whose candidacy is largely based on kids and getting kids great educations and having equality of opportunity for all Floridians, and as someone who’s focused on kids.

My view would be, let’s look at the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and let’s understand if there’s been an increase in consumption among young people. If there has, I have to say I definitely want to decriminalize it but I would not legalize it so fast,” he said.

But if the kids are OK, Greene said the state should go for it.

“If there has been no uptick in use whatsoever among young people, I’d say absolutely legalize it, regulate it. That way people who are using it know what they’re getting. Tax it, get some revenue, use the revenue from that to attack the real drug problem, which is the opioid crisis, which is epidemic in our state, in our country,” he said. “It’s something I want to look at very intelligently, just like in education. I look at the states that have done a great job, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and think, what can we learn from them here in Florida to make our education top five in the country?”

When Truth or Dara asked Greene where he stands on the marijuana issue (both smokable and recreational) he prefaced his response with: “This is my position. It didn’t come from any poll or research. It’s just how I feel.”

Greene, 63, said that medical marijuana has “proven to be an enormous help” to sick people.

“These are people who have cancer, who are really struggling. If it helps relieve their pain, how can we possible not let them get it, in any way they want to ingest it,” he said.

People have been smoking marijuana “for generations now,” Greene said, adding that he doesn’t believe that allowing patients to smoke pot will result in more pot being available for people to use recreationally.

Smoke is an issue, of course, because of a legal tangle over a state law prohibiting smokable medical marijuana. Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban runs afoul of the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida, but Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is appealing the decision.

“On medical, I say make it available. If they want to smoke it, if they want to swallow it, whatever they want to do, but, if it helps them, please Rick Scott, please Republicans, stop hurting these people. These are people who are very sick often, and it’s just horrible that they’re restricting their ability to get pain relief,” he said.

 

 

John Morgan: “If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried”

IMG_0124Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan held court with reporters moments before a hearing in a lawsuit he initiated kicked off Wednesday morning.

Morgan is a political rainmaker who largely bankrolled the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida and was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly two years ago.

Morgan, who had toyed with the notion of running for governor, spoke about his decision to stay out of the governor’s race.

“I’ll tell you. To run for governor, you’ve got to be done making money. And I’m not done making money. Or you have to be a professional politician. And I’m not a professional politician,” he said.

Morgan said he spoke yesterday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach Miami who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” he said, standing outside the courtroom.

Morgan also said he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race.

Morgan said Corcoran visited him a few weeks ago.

“I said, look, here’s the deal. It’s all about money. And if you don’t got the money, you can’t run. I said at the end of the day, questions answer themselves. And I think the question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up,” Morgan said.

While Corcoran is a friend and someone he would have helped, Morgan said the Land O’ Lakes Republican made the right choice.

“I think he made the right decision because I think he would have gotten beat and I think he knew he was going to get beat. And if I’m going to get beat, I don’t like to go to my own ass-kicking,” Morgan said.

Morgan also had what appeared to be a dim view of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s odds against challenger Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny, a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money, and he’s got the message, and if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried,” he said.

 

Marijuana patient database hits 100,000 mark on 4/20 day. Coincidence?

purple bud.JPGAccording to Sigmund Freud, accidents don’t exist.

So how to explain the state’s medical marijuana patient database hitting the magical 100,000 mark on 4/20, better known as “weed day” among acolytes of the Grateful Dead, Phish and whoever else pot aficionados are listening to these days. (We could give you the soundtrack to our cloudy college days, but we’ll spare you.)

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, Florida patients may have as much to mourn as to celebrate.

The state’s pot czar, Christian Bax, and his troupe have yet to finalize rules regulating the state’s rapidly growing pot industry.

But, worse yet, major marijuana-related lawsuits — including one initiated by Amendment 2 big daddy John Morgan — have a long way to go before they’re settled.

Morgan’s suit, which features marijuana patient-icon Cathy Jordan as a plaintiff, challenges a state law passed last year that bans patients like Jordan from smoking cannabis. Vaping makes Jordan, who has ALS, gag, and her doctors have recommended smoking as the best route of administration.

Meanwhile, Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner — who revolutionized the “gentleman’s club” industry in Florida — won a victory from Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers, who gave the 77-year-old lung cancer survivor permission to grow his own weed for juicing purposes.

Redner’s doc says that eight ounces of whole plant juice daily — which would take about three pounds of raw plant material, or about 40 plants in varying stages of growth — is the best way for his patient to keep his cancer in remission.

The state quickly appealed Gievers’s decision, and it’s unknown whether the appellate court will let him move forward while the case is under appeal.

The legal challenges are only a few of the issues facing the pot industry. Medical marijuana purveyors are having a hard time finding retail locales to ply their wares, and some in the industry are complaining there aren’t enough doctors to handling a quickly growing patient base.

But, hey, it’s 4/20 day, so, sit back, crank up whatever, and chill.

Purses and pot in Jax

budJacksonville shoppers with pot issues can pop into a new law office after browsing the racks at Steinmart.
Denver-based Vicente Sederberg LLC, which bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading marijuana law firms,” is opening a office in the Riverside shopping center, according to a press release issued Thursday.
The expansion of Vicente Sederberg — which, according to the release, “guided” one of the state’s five original medical marijuana licensees — in Florida marks a growing pot-focused legal community in what some experts predict will be one of the nation’s largest markets.
From the press release:
“The marijuana policy and business landscapes are evolving quickly in the U.S. and especially in Florida,” said founding partner Brian Vicente. “The expansion of the state’s tightly regulated medical cannabis program is not only fueling demand and supply, but also innovation. Vicente Sederberg has been at the forefront of these developing markets for nearly a decade, advising businesses, guiding policymakers, and building a viable and responsible industry.

“Our new Jacksonville office will allow us to expand our service offerings to our existing Florida clients and develop relationships with the many entrepreneurs and investors seeking opportunities in the state’s burgeoning medical cannabis and hemp industries.”

The Jacksonville office will be headed by Sally Kent Peebles, according to the release.
The opening of the Jax branch comes amid myriad marijuana-related lawsuits, and the announcement followed Tallahassee Judge Karen Gievers’ decision yesterday to allow Joe Redner to grow his own pot so he can juice it to prevent his lung cancer from recurring.
Put this on your calendar: The law firm is sponsoring the “National Cannabis Industry Association’s Quarterly Cannabis Caucus” in Tampa on Tuesday, and will also participate in North East Florida NORML’s 420 on the Beach event in Jacksonville Beach on April 20.

No electricity? Relax…Florida pot operator opens shop in Puerto Rico

IMG_4015

Photo courtesy Knox Medical

Knox Medical Puerto Rico, affiliated with a Miami-based Florida medical marijuana operator, opened its first dispensary in Puerto Rico this week.

“This modern facility meets our high standards for compliance and quality of the patient experience. Starting today, Knox Medical will be offering an unrivaled level of service to more than 15,000 certified patients in Puerto Rico,” José J. Hidalgo, founder and CEO of Knox Medical and Cansortium Holdings, said in a press release.

The dispensary is located in San Juan, and Knox Medical’s cultivation and processing operations are in Barranquitas, according to the release.

Patients from Florida and other states visiting the island can purchase medical marijuana after presenting a valid MMJ ID card to the Puerto Rico Department of Cannabis, also per the release.

Knox Medical is one of 13 licensed medical marijuana operators in Florida. Its Florida grow operations are located in Winter Garden, and the company has dispensaries in Gainesville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Lake Worth and St. Petersburg.

 

 

 

Good pot cop, bad pot cop?

With all of the tension between the House and Senate, it’s unlikely that there’s a coordinated effort between the chambers regarding the treatment of Florida pot czar Christian Bax.

But it seems there’s a good cop, bad cop thing going on.

After a major spanking by a Senate committee earlier this year, the House Health Quality Subcommittee gave Bax the kid-glove treatment this morning.

And a key member of the panel, Rep. Ralph Massullo even acknowledged it.

“I know you got beat up in the Senate but we try to do things more in the House with martial arts, where the effect is the same but we use less force,” Massullo, a Lecanto Republican who is a doctor, said.

Senators were furious with Bax over delays in issuing new medical marijuana licenses, which Bax, the director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, blamed on pending legal challenges. The Senate Health Quality Committee

“I’m not buying that just because there’s litigation out there you can’t fulfill your statutory duty to issue these additional licenses,” Senate Health Quality Committee Chairwoman Dana Young, a lawyer, scolded Bax during an appearance before her panel last month.

Senate committees have also been frustrated about delays patients are facing in getting their ID cards from Bax’s shop. Patients have to be cleared by Bax’s office before they can obtain the medical marijuana treatment.

The House committee this morning spent a good chunk of time querying Bax about the ID cards, but much more gently than his treatment by its Senate counterpart.

Bax blamed delays in the issuing the ID cards on a couple of things, mostly having to do with paper.

The company that processes electronic payments for the state won’t handle the $75 charge for the ID cards, so patients are forced to pay by check, which takes longer, Bax said.

And there’s a bid war going on regarding the outsourcing of the ID cards. A losing bidder is protesting the Department of Health’s selection of a vendor to process and produce the ID cards. That probably won’t be resolved until February, according to health officials.

Of the 52,000 patients in the medical marijuana registry, about 31,000 have received ID cards. Another 17,000 haven’t applied for one, after being entered into the registry by their doctor, Bax said.

About 4,500 patients are “moving through that process” of applying for a card, he said, eschewing the word “backlog” when asked about it.

Bax said he’s hired 19 new employees and 18 temp workers, and all but three of them are devoted to handling the cards.

“Any time a person has to lay hands on a piece of paper, scan it, sort it, organize it…Anytime that happens, it takes time and resources to do,” he said. “So patients watching at home, please apply on line.”

 

 

And now for something completely different: Montel, weed and Viagra

28659_433429866872_3805903_nMontel Williams — an outspoken proponent of medical weed — is suing an Arizona ex-con who the TV host alleges has used his name to scam people into buying “purported” low-THC marijuana products.

“The complaint alleges that at least three companies linked to Timothy K. Isaac of Scottsdale, Arizona have intentionally and ‘blatantly’ been using Williams’ reputation as a celebrity and CBD proponent following my April Forbes article, as well as comments he made therein and elsewhere, to sell ‘purported CBD oils’ through numerous websites as part of multiple ‘unscrupulous businesses [and] online scams that are deceiving customers,'” wrote Janet Burns, a freelancer who wrote the April Forbes article touting Williams’ years-long effort to legalize medical marijuana.

The lawsuit was filed in Miami federal court on Oct. 27.
One of the defendants in the case appears to be the head of a labyrinthine network who “previously faced legal action over online sales of illegal Chinese ‘Viagra,'” according to Burns.
Here’s more from her blog post:

“…The complaint alleges that at least three companies linked to Timothy K. Isaac of Scottsdale, Arizona have intentionally and “blatantly” been using Williams’ reputation as a celebrity and CBD proponent following my April Forbes article, as well as comments he made therein and elsewhere, to sell “purported CBD oils” through numerous websites as part of multiple “unscrupulous businesses [and] online scams that are deceiving customers.”

According to the suit, defendants including Advanceable Technology, LLC, Beauty Strong, LLC (formerly Hathor Secrets and Secrets of Isis, LLCs), Snowflake Marketing, LLC, and Isaac, to whom the companies are seemingly registered, have been “knowingly and willfully capitalizing on Plaintiffs’ valuable reputation and intellectual property to lure consumers into ordering their Infringing Products on the false premise that they have been tested, created, or recommended by Williams” despite repeated requests to cease and decist.

Through a range of news article- and blog-style pages across different websites, and including posts designed to mimic my Forbes contributor site as it appears with the original article, the responsible parties seemingly used and re-used my written content and selected photos of Williams, content from other sources, and likely lots of original material to promote subscriptions for a long list of products said to contain high quality CBD.

Whole articles or photos and blurbs purporting endorsement from Bill Gates, Dr. Dre, Whoopi Goldberg, Morgan Freeman, Lady Gaga, and others were also used.”

Here’s links to her blog post, the original Forbes article, and a Phoenix New Times story about the lawsuit.