Florida’s New Medical Marijuana Laws

By Julie Godard | November 17, 2016

At a Glance

  • Florida 26th state to legalize medical marijuana
  • Extended qualifying conditions
  • 71% of Florida voters supported compassion
  • Department of Health will regulate medical marijuana treatment centers

Flordia Legalizes Medical Marijuana

We have passed the halfway mark as of November 8 in the battle for making medical cannabis legal across the United States: Florida has joined the ranks, making it the 26 state to fully legalized medical marijuana. Florida, which had passed a very restricted form of medical cannabis legal across the United States: Florida has joined the ranks, making it the 26 state to fully legalized medical marijuana. Florida, which had passed a very restricted form of medical cannabis legalization in 2015 known as HB 63, has now revised the original law with Amendment 2 which will allow more patients access to medical marijuana following the opening of the first low-THC cannabis dispensary in Tallahassee. The first law was considered “flawed” because it only allowed access to some medical cannabis patients and only in low-THC form. HB 307 allowed terminally ill patients to obtain the low-THC cannabis products, but proponents believed the law did not go far enough in helping Florida’s patients, and they were right.

Decriminalization in Florida

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) noted that many cities and counties across the state have begun passing decriminalization ordinances since June of 2015, including some of the largest counties in the area (Miami-Dade County, Tampa County, Key West County, and Orlando County). Despite this seeming liberalism in relation to marijuana possession and arrests, some law enforcement departments across the state have refused to stop arresting “everyone in possession of marijuana,” as noted by MPP. So if you’re planning on partaking in or consuming cannabis in Florida, make sure you are a licensed cannabis patient, or make sure that you are within a more liberal county. In other words, educate yourself before consuming or possessing.

Florida’s Amendment 2

Under Florida’s passed Amendment 2, the 71.31% of people voting yes legalized medical marijuana for patients with the following conditions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD),  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Under Amendment 2, licensed physicians can certify medical cannabis patients by diagnosing them with these conditions or “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind of class as or comparable to those enumerated” in the Amendment. This new wording opens up the laws to include other diseases in the future if physicians believe their patients could benefit from medical cannabis, which is a key part of keeping laws progressive. The new 2016 amendment clarified parental consent for use by minors, and further defined “debilitating illnesses.” Doctors are not immune to malpractice claims for negligent marijuana prescriptions, and there is a limit to patients for individual caregivers.

Issues with Florida’s Cannabis Laws

Since effort first began to legalize medical cannabis in Florida, led by organizations like United for Care, there have been many people in the state that have opposed the measures or been very cautious about adopting legal marijuana in any form. Despite the continued decriminalization of marijuana in Florida, there are some hold-outs to the new medical cannabis laws, including Tampa County police officers who continue to arrest and jail people who are found in possession of marijuana in any amount. This is an example of what’s happening in some places across the country, as state and federal laws collide and people aren’t sure how to act, or choose to prosecute people at the federal level and disregard state laws. This type of confusion and wrongful (depending on how you see it) prosecution of people who were technically within their rights to possess, cultivate, and even sell medical cannabis has occurred all over the country, in California, Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and many other states where either medical, recreational, or both types of cannabis are now legal by state law. This too shall pass, Florida cannabis supporters! Continue to fight for your rights use medical or recreational cannabis – the country hears you and is fighting alongside you. Oh, and please help Georgia out, if you can!

Julie Godard

Julie is an advocate of cannabis, both in medical and recreational forms, as a way to expand our knowledge of medicine, culture, and the reality of our planet. She is an experienced freelance writer with a deep concern for social welfare and love of scientific discovery. Follow her on MassRoots, LinkedIn, or on her website, juliekgodard.com.

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