Medical Marijuana in Florida
Florida currently has the most restrictive medical marijuana laws out of any state in the country. In 2014 a measure was passed that reduced the ability for law enforcement to prosecute those in possession of low THC/high CBD cannabis. While the bill took effect on July 1st of 2014, it wasn’t until 2016 when Florida Amendment 2 was passed that some forms of medical cannabis were actually legalized.
Florida Amendment 2 was proposed in early 2014, with the Supreme Court in Florida ruling 4-3 in favor of allowing voters to decide the fate of the bill. Amendment 2 receiving only 57.6% of the vote failed to get the supermajority of 60% required for constitutional amendments in Florida. Even if passed, the bill would only legalize cannabis oil which contains no more than 15% CBD and less than 0.5% THC content. However, after being re-proposed in 2016, on November 8th, Florida Amendment 2 passed with a 71.3% majority vote. The amendment states that the law must be in place by July 3rd, and enacted by October. Florida Governor Rick Scott says that he plans to sign the bill into effect.
Continuing with their trend of extremely restrictive cannabis law, Florida Amendment 2 prohibits the smoking of cannabis. Approved medical conditions to receive a medical marijuana prescription include ailments such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, MS, and a myriad of others. To receive a medical marijuana prescription you must have had doctor/physician for at least three months, and they must have completed the eight-hour course required to prescribe the substance. Currently, five organizations have received approval to distribute medical cannabis.
One such organization, CHT Medical, will even be doing in home delivery. Currently, there are dispensaries open in certain cities. However, over 50 cities statewide have introduced zoning moratoriums that either ban or restrict dispensaries from opening. Despite this, a study by Arcview Market Research and New Frontier Data states that the state will likely log more than $1 billion in cannabis sales by 2019. The study goes on to show that it may even pass Colorado’s sales within four years.
The legislation puts in place a plan to license 10 new growers by October. And despite the smoking ban, patients with prescriptions for cannabis will be able to use pills, oils, edibles and vape pens. Many medical marijuana activists in the state expect there to be lawsuits over the newly enacted legislation due to the included anti-smoking measures. The bill was worded in such a way so that a judge could potentially invalidate part of it without removing all of the medical marijuana infrastructure and rulesets it puts in place.
One such lawsuit is already being planned. John Morgan, a known Floridian medical marijuana activist has promised to sue over the smoking prohibition included in the legislature. “I don’t know why they would object to anyone on their death bed wanting to use what they wanted to relieve pain and suffering,” John Morgan said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday night. Morgan plans to file a suit in Leon County and will be receiving help from constitutional law expert John Mills.
According to the DoH, there are currently over 15,000 medical marijuana patients registered in Florida. And one study projects that by 2022 there could be nearly 500,000 patients in the state.