Lawmakers hear presentations on medical marijuana

Florida lawmakers heard two presentations Wednesday on the legalization of marijuana. (MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - With two amendments circulating that could legalize marijuana, state lawmakers got two presentations Wednesday.

One on what happened in Colorado and the other on the Florida's medical marijuana industry.

Legalization in Colorado appears to have been more successful than Florida’s efforts with medical marijuana.

Andrew Freedman oversaw Colorado’s marijuana legalization.

Since 2014, there have been just over 100 fatal accidents in which marijuana was in the system, but accident rates have not increased.

“Colorado had 11 deaths per 100,000 of population. The national average that year was 11.6 deaths,” said Freedman.

And contrary to other reports, underage use did not skyrocket in Colorado.

“There was a surprisingly significant decrease post commercialization in Colorado,” said Freedman.

And when it comes to vaping illnesses, he said the problem was not with legal vendors.

“Most of it is coming out of the black market, which has been thought that there is a quality control issue black market vaping products,” said Freedman.

Lawmakers were told there was nothing nefarious about fewer than 100 doctors making the most medical marijuana recommendations.

The two biggest problems are cost and the availability of physicians.

"There are patients who live in counties that don’t have a dispensary. Or patients who don’t live in counties with a qualifying physician,” said Executive Director of the Florida Board of Medicine Claudia Kemp.

And Florida NORML told lawmakers high costs were driving patients back into the black market or cheaper alternatives.

“It so much easier to go and get a $5 or $10 prescription. So you’ve seen an increase in opioid overdose deaths with every county in Florida with that has a restrictive policy for medical marijuana,” said Villar.

The result has been 25 percent of the state’s medical marijuana approved patients leaving the system.

Colorado received more than $250 million last year in tax revenue from marijuana.

The money was used to build and repair schools.