On May 15, 2017, the Florida Department of Health sent a cease-and desist-letter to Trulieve, one of Florida’s seven licensed medical marijuana companies, ordering them to stop selling whole flower medical marijuana to their patients.

Licensed dispensing organizations have a responsibility to ensure their product is not one that can easily be transitioned into a smokable form. Therefore, whole flower products are not permitted,” state Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax wrote to Trulieve on Monday.

Current law bans smoking of medical marijuana but includes an exception that allows patients to use vaporizers to consume cannabis products. Smoking is defined as burning or igniting a substance and inhaling the smoke.

The products released by Trulieve last week, come in small, wire mesh bags sold in vaporizer cups. The mesh caps affixed to the tops of the bags can be removed with minimal effort by purchasers, according to the letter.

Given the above facts, Trulieve is hereby ordered to immediately cease and desist sale of its Entourage product,” Bax wrote.

Trulieve posted this response on Facebook: The Department of Health has issued a letter requiring us to stop the sale of our Entourage products. The Department’s position is “that whole flower products are not permitted.” We apologize to our patients for any hardships this may cause, however, our other products are still available. We will keep you informed as this matter unfolds.

I wondered what the conversation was when the suggestion of not allowing smoking n Amendment 2 initially took place.

Florida 2017 legislative Wall of Shame member, Ray Rodriguez said, “We have to make it legal and available to Florida residents, but we have to do it in such a way that it complies to the guidance we’ve been given by the federal government.”

Not enough information on this Mr. Rodriguez. It is amusing though how politicians still try to pass off their reasoning. People are listening closer and questioning more. Unlike the past, we have unlimited resources at our fingertips to verify truth from lies. Saying we must do it in a way that complies with guidance received from the Federal Government demands elaboration.

What specific guidance have you received from the Feds? Interesting that it hasn’t been a concern of other states, but we’re giving you the benefit of doubt. A man of your stature wouldn’t deprive millions of prospective medical marijuana patients from their choice of delivery methods unless it was for a solid reason. But stating the Federal Government provided guidelines specifically for Florida … complies to the guidance we’ve been given by the federal government, seems like a stretch. If you don’t agree, please explain the history of that discussion.

Quite frankly, it would have been more grounded if you would have said something like, “After a very comprehensive discussion about the future of marijuana in Florida with Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society from Drugs, we came up with necessary and extensive language changes for HB1397. One of which was the part about not being allowed to smoke cannabis.

Rick Scott
James Bax
Christian Bax

Or perhaps something like, “After lengthy discussions with Governor Scott, James Bax and Christian Bax regarding Amendment 2 regulations, it was explained that Florida’s medical cannabis legislation must be smokeless. Patients should be prohibited from growing their own also, therefore creating an industry which requires patients to purchase oils extracted for oral use or in vaporizer pens. Nearly every patient in Florida’s system will likely purchase oils in pre-filled vaporizers. Bax Enterprises, Inc. and others, (You know who you are) would benefit from sales of “legal cannabis CBD” oils and vaporizer pens for use with cannabis extracts.

The idea behind what they are doing in Florida is to create standardized extracted products that require you to buy hardware and can follow on the heels GW Pharmaceuticals, which has two whole plant tincture extracts working its way through FDA approval. (Sativex and Epidiolex)

In truth, whole-plant marijuana is safer and more effective than its pharmaceutical alternatives. Here’s why: no single chemical or compound is 

responsible for the medicinal qualities of weed. Instead, the combination of several hundred different cannabinoids and terpenoids create a complex form of medicine only nature can provide. Trulieve was right to sell it because it is the most effective way for its patients to use cannabis.

But this is information many of us know to be so. And it shouldn’t matter. It’s a personal choice. This is about politics. Florida politics.

Enter Christian Bax. Also a member of the Florida 2017 Amendment 2 Wall of Shame. Christian Bax is currently the Director of the Office of Compassionate Use. He is Florida’s top medical marijuana regulator. Earlier this year, calls for Mr. Bax to resign followed the discovery of inaccurate information on his resume. As it turns out, Mr. Bax never had to fabricate experience with medical cannabis to support his selection for this position. It was designed for him.

In 2015, Bax was hired as Director of the Office of Compassionate Use amid controversy. Christian’s father, James, is a long-time friend of Governor Rick Scott. Scott hired Laura Bax, Christian’s sister in 2013. A fabricated resume for Christian served as his ticket to the un-posted position.

The most bothersome aspect of the DOH Office of Compassionate Use is the business partnership between James, Christian and another son, James Jr. in Bax Enterprises, an online retailer of “legal cannabis CBD” oils and vaporizer pens sold in all 50 states for use with cannabis extracts and nicotine liquids.

It appears blatantly inappropriate for Christian Bax to be involved with a company that stands to benefit from an Amendment 2 implementation that he oversees. One that disallows the smoking of medical cannabis.

Just last week when the Florida Legislature failed to establish Amendment 2 regulations, that responsibility fell onto the Florida Department of Health. Now, regulations become the responsibility of The Office of Compassionate Use.

Perhaps in the early days after November 8th, one could better explain lack of understanding of patients among the lawmakers. But not now. Over the past few months, anyone involved in the regulation process would be expected to fully comprehend where the patients are coming from.  And they should clearly know that prohibiting smoking is a big deal and cannot be explained away by saying it would contradict Federal guidance which we have been given. What is the big reason the state is holding so strong onto this issue?

From the perspective of an outsider like myself, I’m seeing quite an unusual gathering of people conducting business in questionable ways. When I look at the Governor, I see someone that came into office by a slim margin, a large bank account thanks to a recent settlement and history of corruption. Governor Scott assembled the staff in the DOH and guided the selection of Christian Bax, son of his old friend James, to his current position as Director of the OCU.

I see the Director of OCU hold firm with the no cannabis flower regulation. After months of listening to the community, Bax shows zero concern for the patients. Since the responsibility of regulation falls on his department, he had the authority to do things differently. Right? Maybe not.

Here is the address to website of Bax Enterprises:

Again, it would be easy to have the perception that Christian Bax has very little authority. He may be there to play the role and usher pre-determined regulations. Whatever it is, something is fishy.

This week I have read comments calling for removal of Christian Bax and Laura Bax for Conflict of Interest at the least and some have suggested a special prosecutor needs to investigate the whole structure in the Florida Statehouse.

When we get into the legislature, there is a tremendous amount of money available for special interests. From the perspective of an outsider, the whole thing with Mel Sembler cries foul.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has a brother Michael, who runs a lobbying firm who works for Surterra, one of the 7 current dispensing organizations, who stands to gain from the lack of caps or a higher cap.

The 71% are going to come out of this Amendment 2 victory worse than they were before it was legal. It won’t remain that way. There will be millions spent on legal challenges and the environment a year from now will be much more Amendment 2 friendly. It is also likely that an amendment for full cannabis legalization will be included on the 2018 ballot.

In addition, it will mark the beginning of the 71% taking an active and positive leadership role as this industry moves forward. Elected officials that have revealed their loyalty to special interests instead of their constituents must go.

In the meantime, patients wait for easy, affordable and legal relief.

It could have been so different.

 

 

 

 

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