A proposal that would award $2.5 million for UF to study medical marijuana recently moved forward in the Florida House of Representatives. The proposal states that money from the General Revenue Fund will be used to fund UF’s study on the safety and efﬁciency of medical cannabis. The bill, which passed through the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, moved into the Appropriations Committee on Friday.
If the bill is passed in the committee, it will go to a full House vote for final approval. If it passes through the House, the proposal states the one time fund will be finalized in July. House member Dane Eagle, a republican who represents District 77, sponsored the proposal, which was ﬁrst submitted February 7. Janine Sikes, spokesperson for UF, wrote in an email that the money would fund UF’s proposed Cannabis and Safety Outcomes Surveillance System, a program which would monitor the safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis on 25,000 enrolled patients throughout the state.
Florida’s Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment that allows stronger cannabis to be used for a broader list of conditions, took effect in January. Of the six medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Florida, two are in Alachua County, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use. Sikes said the UF program would monitor treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA. UF would create a secure Data Warehouse to track patient data as part of the program.
She said the $2.5 million would be for costs such as faculty salaries and data processing. She stated, “Evidence is lacking to evaluate risk/benefit of medical marijuana. It is pivotal that the state establishes a system to monitor emerging safety concerns, especially for use in children.” She said the proposal is related to the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which requires physicians to submit a quarterly patient treatment plan to the UF’s College of Pharmacy for research on the safety and effectiveness of low-THC cannabis on patients. The details of the proposal state that it would offer funding to implement research provisions in the 2014 act.
A UF nursing senior, Alicia Ciliezar, said she supports the use and research of medical cannabis. The substance helps improve pain levels for individuals with issues such as neurologic conditions and digestive disorders. She said, “I’m very eager to see the aims of the study, the objectives and the outcomes. I’m sure it will be fascinating and shape our perception on the substance.”