Florida Medical Marijuana Law Expanded

Florida Medical Marijuana Law Expanded

Florida has approved medical marijuana legislation that would allow terminally ill patients access to medical cannabis, which is being referred to as the “Right to Try” act.

Senator Rob Bradley and Representative Matt Gaetz sponsored the bill (HB 307).

“We can finally deliver on the promise we made to those suffering families two years ago. The delays are over,”

said Bradley.

Indeed, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act passed in 2014 promised a conservative medical marijuana program for patients in Florida, but was plagued with legal challenges in a state that has no interest in creating a cannabis industry.

“Today was an important step to take back control of the situation and get it into the hands of families as soon as possible,” said Bradley. Governor Rick Scott office worked with legislators to craft an acceptable version of the bill, which he ultimately signed.

Critics of the bill are skeptical that the new bill will continue to cause legal complications, which will further stall medical marijuana efforts.

“Unfortunately, because of the persistent ineptitude of the state legislature, there are presently zero eligible medical marijuana patients in the state. The bill’s passage today is merely more lipstick on the pig that is Tallahassee’s failed medical marijuana.”

said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care.

The new legislation will allow patients to consume non-smokeable forms of cannabis produced from strains that are higher in CBD and low in THC (hemp). The language of the new law also permits manufacturers to produce concentrates using the whole plant, like CBD oil which can be vaporized or ingested. Five cultivation licenses have been issued so far. There are also provisions for proper labeling and penalties to doctors who wrongly prescribe cannabis.

Up to 250,000 Florida patients will be able to participate in the program. Should more patients qualify, the program would authorize permits to more dispensaries and cultivators to accommodate the expansion.

Although the current program is modest, there are plans for a larger medical marijuana program that will appear on the ballot in November. The proposed constitutional amendment would be similar to Colorado’s Amendment 64, but would not legalize recreational marijuana.

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Florida Lawyer Matching Donations to Support Medical Marijuana 9 to 1

Florida Lawyer Matching Donations to Support Medical Marijuana 9 to 1

The medical marijuana debate has officially restarted in Florida. Sticking to his promise to continue fighting for legal medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, after the close loss in 2014, Orlando lawyer John Morgan announced he will match all donations to the new effort nine-to-one.

This fundraising effort is being organized by United For Care, the group that is leading the charge to put medical marijuana on the 2016 statewide ballot.

In a release by United For Care, Morgan stated,

“For every $10 donated here, the campaign will get $100 that goes directly to collecting petitions. If you donate $100 here, the campaign will literally get $1,000 that will be used to ensure that we get medical marijuana on the ballot next year.”

Morgan elaborated that the money ($1.5 million) will be spent to pay for the amount of professional signature gatherers needed to have a successful outcome. The goal is to collect an additional 500,000 signatures, each of which has an average cost of $3 per signature.

“If you and the thousands of other campaign supporters can raise $150,000, I’ll give the other $1,350,000,”

Morgan stated.

In the 2014 election Morgan and his law firm donated approximately $4 million to United For Care’s efforts. The measure did not pass because it fell just short of the 60 percent support needed from voters.

A New Medical Marijuana Amendment Has Been Submitted in Florida

A New Medical Marijuana Amendment Has Been Submitted in Florida

The loss suffered last election day by medical marijuana proponents in Florida was an especially tough one because it was such a close race. Amendment 2, the medical marijuana measure, was approved by nearly 58 percent of voters. That is the majority vote, so it would have been approved in most states. In Florida, however, 60 percent of the vote is required to pass a state constitutional amendment.

After that loss, John Morgan, the medical malpractice attorney that was leading and funding the campaign, promised that he would try again, and as of Thursday, the “war” has officially started.

Wednesday night, Morgan announced his plans to submit the new ballot language to the Secretary of State’s office Thursday morning, via his twitter account.

john morgan twitter

Thursday, it was confirmed that the new ballot language was submitted for approval, and the team has their eyes on the 2016 general election. According to Morgan, the new verbiage is almost the same, except that the so-called “loopholes” that the anti-medical marijuana campaign used to fear monger Florida residents last October have been closed.

The medical marijuana opposition campaign, Drug Free Florida, which was funded almost exclusively by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson of Nevada, was the brainchildren behind the famous advertisement (shown below) that claimed marijuana edibles would be the new date rape drug if Amendment 2 was approved. The wording of the new proposal will not allow the opposition as much creative freedom in 2016.

marijuana edibles

The United for Care organization website states that the new online petition will launch in the next few weeks. They have to start from scratch since the wording of the new amendment is slightly different. The new amendment was just submitted to the Secretary of State’s office for approval. Once the verbiage is approved, United for Care will begin petitioning for 68,314 signatures from registered Florida voters. Those signatures must be collected in order to turn the ballot language into the Florida Supreme Court for review and validation.

Once the Florida Supreme Court approves, activists will begin petitioning again. The second round of collection must total at least 683,140 signatures, which must be collected within one year in order to qualify for the 2016 general election ballot. The deadline is February 1, 2016.

The differences between the 2014 and 2016 ballot languages are outlined below, courtesy of the Miami Herald:

PROPOSED 2016 AMENDMENT vs. 2014 AMENDMENT

2016 Title: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

2014 Title: Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions

2016: Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

2014: Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

2016: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

2014: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician.

2016: A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.

2014: A physician licensed in Florida shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law for issuing a physician certification to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in a manner consistent with this section.

2016: “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

2014: (1) “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

2016: “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014), and, in addition, “Low-THC cannabis” as defined in Section 381.986(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2014), shall also be included in the meaning of the term “marijuana.”

2014: “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2013).

2016: “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

2014: “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana or related supplies by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver for use by a qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.

2016: “Caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time.

Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.

2014: “Personal caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana and has a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. A personal caregiver may assist no more than five (5) qualifying patients at one time. An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility may serve as a personal caregiver to more than five (5) qualifying patients as permitted by the Department. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use by the qualifying patient.

2016: “Physician” means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

2014: “Physician” means a physician who is licensed in Florida.

2016: In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.

2014: No such language

2016: Nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section.

2014: No such language

2016: Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section shall affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

2014: Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.

2016: Nothing in this section shall permit the operation of any vehicle, aircraft, train or boat while under the influence of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

2014: Nothing in this law section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.

2016: Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

2014: Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.

2016: Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

2014: Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.

2016: Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to negligence or professional malpractice on the part of a qualified patient, caregiver, physician, MMTC, or its agents or employees.

2014: No such language

2016: Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.

2014: Procedures for the issuance of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.

2016: Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.

2014: Procedures for the issuance of personal caregiver identification cards to persons qualified to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana, and standards for the renewal of such identification cards.

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