Florida marijuana laws changed last week as the state became the 26th to legalize medical marijuana. Amendment 2, which allows patients to have access to medical marijuana, passed with 71.3 percent to 28.7 percent. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, all located in the south of Florida, were the counties that voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amendment. A similar bill failed 2 years ago, falling 3 percent short of passing despite having 90 percent public support. Republican Governor Rick Scott still commenced in signing a medical marijuana bill in June 2014 which legalized a strain of marijuana that is low in THC and therefore does not create a high. The bill also protected the identities of patients.
A Historic Vote for Florida
Amendment 2 expands on the current Florida marijuana laws, allowing more patients access to a wider variety of strains. This time around, voters made sure to get to the polls and vote on the issue and the outcome has been favorable for the many people who are looking to end prohibition and make use of the medicinal benefits of the plant. Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United for Care said, “We were confident going into the election that it was going to pass but this is truly historic.”
Qualifying Conditions Under Florida Marijuana Laws
Patients suffering with a number of debilitating conditions will receive relief as doctors will now be able to recommend medical cannabis as a treatment. Amendment 2 allows patients suffering with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to qualify for a doctor’s recommendation for the plant. The measure also allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering with “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated.”
Meeting the Deadlines
The next step lies in implementing the new Florida marijuana laws. The Florida Department of Health has until July next year to create and pass all the regulations under the amendment. The state has until October 2017 to issue licenses to growers, testers, manufacturers and dispensaries. At that time, identification cards will begin to be issued to qualifying patients who have been approved to use medical marijuana.
Opponents of the amendment were afraid that the state would be overrun by marijuana stores and marijuana edibles designed for children. In fact, fear has been so strong in those residents that bans have been popping up around the state. Places such as Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton have placed temporary bans on the plant. Officials in these places want to get a sense of the effects of legalizing medical marijuana before allowing residents in their community access to the plant. This means patients in these locations who are suffering from debilitating conditions will not have access to the medicinal benefits of the plant.
These concerns are often common in towns where prohibition is ending but regulators always prevent marijuana stores from having visible store fronts and signs need to be discreet. Marijuana edibles are being banned across the country from appearing in forms attractive to children. On top of this they come in childproof packaging.
At any rate, Florida residents suffering from debilitating conditions will soon have access to relief. Communities reserve the right to extend bans, though this will likely put them in opposition of the demands of the majority. It remains to be seen if these restrictions will be lifted when the results of marijuana’s legalization become more apparent.