“Drug laws are some of the strictest in our nation”, Florida Medical Marijuana New Laws

26 Jul 2017 By

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Drug laws in Florida are some of the strictest in the nation. At the height of the drug wave in the 1980s, tough drug possession laws were enacted to control the flow of drugs both in and out of the state and the country. This has led to some pretty serious consequences, even for simple drug possession charges.

Florida also has a difficult history of high addition rates, major problems with oxycontin and other prescription drug abuse and distribution through pain clinics, known as “pill mills”.

Pill Mills

The state has finally had some success at closing this legal pill loopholes, which has let a lot of former pill addicts to heroin abuse.

Florida is well behind the national trend for liberalization of florida medical marijuana laws. Florida Medical marijuana can be used by Floridians, but it can only be consumed or vaped, not smoked.  Florida Medical marijuana bill SB-8A has eliminated the 90-day waiting period before a physician can prescribe medical marijuana to a patient and outlines the requirements to qualify as a caregiver for someone who uses medical marijuana. Read SB-8A in its entirety here.

Medical marijuana products can be sold as edibles, vaping, oils, sprays or tinctures. Patients may receive an order for three 70-day supplies before having to visit a doctor again to get re-examined.

Under the agreement, there will be a limit of 25 retail dispensaries per medical marijuana treatment center, which can increase by five for every 100,000 patients added to the registry. The cap would expire on April 1, 2020.

The legislation also added 10 more florida medical marijuana treatment centers, meaning there would be 17 statewide by October. Four additional Florida medical marijuana centers would be added for every 100,000 patients.

According to the Department of Health, the state registry now has 16,614 patients.
A recent state revenue impact study projects that by 2022 there will be 472,000 medical cannabis patients and $542 million in sales.

Patients and caregivers say the proposed rules remain too restrictive. The bill allows patients to receive an order for three 70-day supplies Medical marijuana products can be sold as edibles, vaping, oils, sprays or tinctures.

Smoking is still banned, however The smoking ban is likely to be challenged in the courts.
John Morgan, a lawyer and chairperson of the support campaign for Amendment 2, said he intended to file a lawsuit over Senate Bill 8A’s ban on smoking medical marijuana.

Morgan said, “I don’t know what their problem is with smoke but that’s clearly the intent of the amendment. I will get to sue them to allow medical marijuana to be smoked .…. The reason I will win is because the amendment says clearly that medical marijuana may not be smoked in public, but if it may not be smoked in public it may be smoked in private.” The amendment requires new laws to be in place by July 3 and enacted by October.

Voters clearly anticipated that patients would be able to smoke florida medical marijuana. Plus, cancer patients have reported greater relief from smoking marijuana than the pill derivative. Lawmakers should avoid committing taxpayers to a lawsuit they’re sure to lose. Kill the “no smoking” provision. Let doctors decide the best administration method.

In order to prescribe medical marijuana, physicians are required to take a course through the Florida Medical Association or Florida Osteopathic Medical Association costing $500. Training for doctors would drop from eight hours to two but they would still have to stringently document patients’ conditions before prescribing marijuana.  Despite the apparent freedoms the amendment and bill afford, regulations over florida medical marijuana abound.  Much of the legislation thus far grants extensive power to the Florida Department of Health over registering and regulating medical marijuana treatment centers, distributing caregiver identification cards, determining the number of patients a caregiver may aid, and establishing regulations regarding the amount of marijuana to be prescribed.

Florida continues to follow in the footsteps of 29 other states in the march towards medical or recreational legalization of marijuana in the face of both Gonzalez vs. Raich (2005) and the increasing scrutiny of Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice.