Two years ago, Florida lawmakers created a marijuana research board at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, but the project has been dead in the water because of inaction by the Department of Health.
That’s about to change under the new governor.
In the two years that the Medical Marijuana Research and Education Board has been in existence, it’s given out just two grants totaling $150,000.
It’s not the board’s fault.
Last year lawmakers authorized $1.75 million.
Dr. Tom Sellers is the board’s director.
“We were supposed to be supported from funding from the state, which was pointed out earlier, through a collection of fees from the growers,” said Sellers.
The problem is that the Department of Health didn’t adopt rules to make the funding available to the board.
“For year two, we did not receive any money,” said Sellers.
The Department of Health has been under constant pressure from lawmakers, who say it deliberately slowed down all things marijuana.
“So, I think this is a little bit of collateral damage within that discussion,” said Moffitt Legislative Affairs Director Jamie Wilson.
In an exclusive interview, Senate President Bill Galvano told us that’s about to change.
“Well, I think we need research,” said Galvano. “There is a dearth of research.”
What’s changed is that Ron DeSantis brings a who new attitude about marijuana to the governor’s office.
“We have a commitment that the department is moving forward and taking the necessary steps, so we’ve included the funding, the $1.8 million that was at issue, and hopefully we will have more research,” said Galvano.
Researchers caution that if lawmakers want information, they’ll have to provide a steady stream of funding.
The research board is made up of researchers from five hospitals across the state.
This past year, it planned to award four research projects, but had to put them on hold because of the lack of funding.