What are Florida’s New Drug Laws?


Lukas Barfield

September 21st, 2017

Policy


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Florida finally passed medical marijuana Constitutional amendment in 2016, and after a special session, the Florida state legislature eventually sent Governor Rick Scott a medical marijuana bill that he signed in June 2017. There is some confusion in the Sunshine State about what is legal and who qualifies for medical marijuana, but the state is slowly licensing additional growers while marijuana treatment centers open one by one around the state. Adding to the confusion is a high concentrate CBD law passed in 2014 that was meant to help children suffering from seizures.  So, what are Florida medical marijuana laws and why has it taken so long to implement them?

Back-story

Responding to please parents to help their kids, and riding a wave of high CBD bills passed in conservative states around the country, the Florida legislature first passed a high CBD bill known as Charlotte’s Law in 2014. The bill permits parents whose children suffer from intractable seizure disorders to purchase and administer high CBD cannabis oil, and was later expanded to allow patients with cancer and spasmodic conditions to obtain the life saving oil. Later in 2014, voters went to the polls to reject Amendment 2 for the first time, missing the 60% threshold for passing the Constitutional amendment which legalized full plant medical marijuana by only 3 percentage points. However, Floridians would not be deterred.  They went to the polls in 2016 and passed Amendment 2 with an impressive 71% of the vote.

Amendment 2 insisted the Florida Legislature pass medical marijuana regulations in six months. At times, it didn’t look good for the bill, but eventually the legislature passed loose regulations for the fledgling medical marijuana system in a special session. With both sides compromising, not everyone was happy with the final outcome.  Medical marijuana advocates contended that the legislature did not follow the will of the people when they banned smoking marijuana.

What to Know

  • Cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating conditions will qualify a person for medical marijuana in Florida. To qualify for medical marijuana due to pain, the pain must be related to one of the qualifying conditions listed above.
  • Care takers are allowed to obtain medical marijuana for patients, but must be designated at the doctor’s visit.
  • Patients can buy topicals, oils, concentrates, and edibles, but smoking raw flower is not allowed, nor will patients find flower on sale at treatment centers.
  • A doctor’s recommendation lasts 210 days, and the prescription must be updated every 70 days online, by phone or in person.
  • Patients must obtain an additional medical marijuana ID card through the state which must be renewed annually.
  • Possession amounts are prescribed on a patient to patient basis by a doctor,
  • Marijuana is still illegal for people without a medical marijuana recommendation
  • Medical marijuana patients cannot be grown at home.

Although pleased that the legislature finally regulated medical marijuana as Amendment 2 directed, there may still be lawsuits challenging the long awaited law. John Morgan, the primary backer of Amendment 2, promises a lawsuit that challenges the ban on smoking marijuana.  Cities and counties are taking action to ban treatment centers within their borders, delaying medical marijuana in parts of the state even longer. Patient advocates are also unhappy over the omission of chronic pain not related to one of the qualifying conditions, possibly opening the Amendment up for more law suits.  Like other states, it looks like Florida’s medical marijuana law will go through years of growing pains before being fully implemented, but with proper documentation patients who need medical marijuana do have access to medical marijuana in 2017.

About Lukas Barfield



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