Floridians wait for low-THC cannabis treatment due to health department’s failings

Charlotte’s Web isn’t just an adorable children’s classic. It’s also the name of a compassionate medical marijuana law passed by the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature earlier this year that’s having trouble getting off the ground.

Unlike the medical marijuana ballot amendment that failed to meet voter approval last month during the mid-term elections, Charlotte’s Web doesn’t involve smoking or getting high. Only 16 of 160 state legislators voted against it.

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But due to administrative failings at the Florida Department of Health, thousands of patients in need of relief could be forced to wait past the Jan. 1, 2015, implementation deadline.

Named for Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old girl who experienced fewer epileptic seizures after being treated with a low-THC marijuana oil. THC is the euphoric ingredient in pot.

“It’s unlike anything that I, in my 30 years of medical practice, have experienced,” said Dr. Alan Shackelford, a leading medical marijuana-endorsing physician based in Colorado.

Figi suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of intractable epilepsy that begins in infancy, has limited treatment options and requires constant care. After being treated with marijuana oil, her seizures dropped from a reported 300 a week to just one a week.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida estimates 375,000 Floridians suffer from epilepsy, many of whom are children. Other debilitating ailments eligible for treatment under Charlotte’s Web include cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and additional conditions involving chronic symptoms related to seizures or muscle spasms.

But turning over the implementation of Charlotte’s Web to the Department of Health has been anything but smooth.

An administrative law judge invalidated FDOH’s implementing rules last month, stating the department acted outside of its authority when determining who could supply the low-THC cannabis.

Read more at Watchdog.org.

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog. Contact him at wpatrick@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @WillPatrick77.

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