• 9 Investigates: Delays over rules for medical marijuana concern parents of ill children

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    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Nine-year-old Sam Seratti will be among the first children in Florida to try the state-approved form of medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web. 

    The non-euphoric strain of marijuana is low in THC and has shown the ability to help people with seizures, epilepsy, or brain injuries. Sam suffers from epilepsy. However, once the trial is finished, Sam may be unable to get any more of the drug.
     
    Because it is illegal under federal law to transport marijuana across state lines, Florida will have to grow Charlotte’s Web, and there aren’t any grow operations underway. The Florida Department of Health is still working on rules to determine what nurseries in the state will be allowed to grow Charlotte’s Web.  The department was supposed to have rules in place by Jan. 1for Charlotte’s Web, but is still struggling to draft a state-wide plan for growing the drug.
     
    “It’s not just Sam, it’s kids that are worse than Sam. It’s (that) there are kids across the state that need this help,” Sam’s mother, Andrea Seratti, said.  “It’s not just one kid, it’s the entire state, and no one seems to care enough to push it through.”
     
    In November, an administrative law judge threw out Department of Health plans for growing Charlotte’s Web.  In a 71-page decision, Judge David Watkins said the department had overstepped its authority when it created a lottery system for awarding permits to nurseries to grow the legal form of marijuana.  Since that decision, the department has been meeting with nurseries and other stakeholders to discuss the best way to proceed.
     
    In an 11-page draft of new rules, the department lays out new requirements for selecting nurseries to grow the plant.  But the rules are still in the development stage and the department will not meet to discuss the issue again until Feb. 4.
     
    “(You've) got to understand that you are dealing with a government, and the government's job is to make a lot of rules,” Roy Davis of Tampa Wholesale Nursery said. “Whoever gets the license will have a lot of government red tape."
     
    Davis said that like most growers in the state, he has no experience growing marijuana, but still plans to apply for a license to grow Charlotte’s Web.
     
    While the state continues to work on the rules for Charlotte’s Web, parents like Seratti are growing concerned about what will happen when their medical trial ends.  Even if the state is able to agree on new rules that meet Watkins’ order, it will take at least until September before the drug will be available for patients.
     
    “He’s had hospitalizations, he’s had surgeries, he’s been on a multitude of medications,” Seratti said speculating on what will happen if Charlotte's Web helps her sone, but is then unavailable. “That’s a very scary thought.”


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