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The Medical Marijuana Battle isn’t Over—It’s Just Begun

Your right to legally use medical marijuana in Florida took a giant leap forward on January 3, 2017. That’s when amendment 2–Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative—went into effect.

On November 8, 2016, 71% of Florida voters said yes to legalize medical marijuana for individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.

While the amendment win is big news for marijuana-use advocates, celebration might be premature.

The actual details of the law are still to be written. Plus local governments across Florida—including those close to home—are stepping in to ban shops from selling marijuana in their communities.

You could say the legality of marijuana use in Florida is still in the weeds.

So, What Did Amendment 2 Accomplish?

Amendment 2 follows in the steps of 2014’s approval by the Florida Legislature for use of low-THC and non-smoke cannabis for those suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and chronic muscle spasms.

The new amendment allows for higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical issues.

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis

All forms of marijuana will be allowed, including

  • Flower
  • Concentrates
  • Edibles
  • Tinctures

To legally carry marijuana, patients are required to obtain

  1. A letter of certification from a Physician
  2. A valid state-issued medical marijuana ID card

Unfortunately, the state does not have to issue ID cards until September 3, 2017.

Fortunately, the Florida Department of Health must finalize medical marijuana regulations by June 3, 2017. The department will need to decide on the criteria for issuing dispensary licenses plus whether the shop can:

  • Grow, process and dispense (sell) its own marijuana
  • Or, to separate each activity into its own licensing entities

Medical Marijuana Status on the Local Front

Regulatory guidance of Amendment 2 can’t come soon enough.

As of January, nearly 60 Florida cities have issued zoning moratoriums banning or restricting dispensaries.

Here’s the status on bans in our community:

  • Jacksonville Beach: One year ban on dispensary shops
  • Orange Park: One year ban on dispensary shops
  • Clay County: Considering a moratorium county wide on January 24
  • Augustine Beach: Considering regulations on where marijuana can be legally grown, processed and sold

These moratoriums could be removed or adjusted once regulations are implemented by the Florida Legislature and the Department of Health.

Keep in mind though, between now and June 3, there will be a lot of political pressure to influence regulations.

Local governments will probably push for local control of marijuana distribution points.

What Next?

We’re still in a wait and see mode on how the regulations will be written.

Fortunately, there’s a strict timeline built into Amendment 2. If the Department of Health does not meet its deadline, you—as a Florida citizen—are empowered to “seek judicial relief to compel compliance.”

As Always, Know Your Right

Last July, I wrote about the benefits of legalizing medical marijuana: Purchasing Medical Marijuana in Florida – What You Should Know

In the article, I included details about your rights regarding marijuana possession. I strongly urge you to review the article and stay knowledgeable about your rights.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to give me a call: (904) 567-3113