TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) — Michael Minardi, the general counsel for Florida NORML, unloaded on a House committee this week over the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.
Minardi, whose website proclaims he’s “The Gold Standard of the Green Industry,” joined other medical-marijuana smoking proponents in urging the House Health & Human Services Committee to pass a bill that would eliminate the ban.
Before hearing from the advocates Tuesday, committee Chairman Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, made a significant concession by eliminating a proposal that would have required doctors to get approval from a “case review panel” before they could order smokable marijuana for patients.
The House plan now would restrict patients to buying pre-rolled joints with filters from licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries. The advocates aren’t crazy about that provision, but patients could rip off the filters and stuff the weed into bongs, as Rodrigues acknowledged.
Minardi told the committee that smoking is the number one choice for patients in other states where medical marijuana is legal. Smoking is much cheaper than tinctures or vape oils.
The committee also heard from patients who admitted they’re smoking weed so they can benefit from what is known as the “entourage effect” you can only get from whole flower.
“Patients are going to continue to use flower whether or not you do this (legalize smoking) or not,” Minardi said. “They’re going to either get it from the black market, as they already are, because they know it’s what works for them. Every other state in this country is laughing at us, saying that we gave our patients tinctures, and we have wax and shatter on the shelves, and not flower.”
“Do you understand the impact of that and how ironic that is? You’re giving them the hard stuff, but not letting them have the beer but take a shot of tequila. That’s what that’s equivalent to,” he added.
Lawmakers are taking the wrong approach with filters, if they’re concerned about screening toxins out of joints, according to Minardi.
“A bong hit is the best way to do that,” he advised.
The pre-rolled filtered marijuana “cigarettes” are sure to be a negotiation point between the House and Senate as they try to meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 15 deadline to nix the smoking ban.
A proposal by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, approved this week by the Senate Innovation, Infrastructure and Technology Committee, doesn’t have any restrictions on whole flower sold at dispensaries and would allow patients to buy equipment at smoke shops.