Photo Credit- Florida Marijuana news
Overtime, marijuana has gradually been legalized in American states. Even though at the federal level it’s still being prohibited. Lately it seems like every state has a different marijuana law. Between medical marijuana, decriminalization, and legalization, it’s hard to keep track of which laws apply where. Especially when different ballot measures and constitutional amendments keep popping up.
Marijuana Laws in Florida
In 2016, the state of Florida voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. While some other states have experimented with marijuana legalization and decriminalization, marijuana remains illegal in Florida unless being used in medicinal cases. Possession of small amounts of marijuana is a crime in the State, albeit having less than 20 grams on you is a misdemeanor. While the option of drug diversion programs may be available for some first-time offenders with no criminal history, it’s still a criminal offense. In 2016, voters passed a constitutional amendment known as the “Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative,” (Amendment 2). The amendment legalized medical marijuana for individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.
Amendment 2, approved by 71 percent of the voters in November 2016, took effect on Jan. 3 and required that laws had to be in place by July 3 for how patients can qualify and receive the drug. The constitutional amendment “was passed overwhelmingly” gaining major support from voters.
Marijuana Law Comes into Effect
In a special legislative session June 23, Gov. Rick Scott approved a bill that effectively puts into action a state constitutional amendment approving medical marijuana passed by voters in 2016. The measure expands the list of debilitating conditions that could make patients eligible to receive marijuana as a medical treatment. It also increases the number of approved marijuana dispensaries across the state from seven to 17.
The bill, which became law Saturday, sets down the framework for how patients can use and access marijuana that 71 percent of voters approved in the Amendment 2 referendum last year. Under the legislation, Florida residents who can be prescribed marijuana include those with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, ALS, Chrohn’s disesase, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and HIV/AIDS. That’s in addition to terminally ill patients who, since 2014, had been allowed by Florida marijuana law to use medical marijuana on the recommendation of a doctor.
According to Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Health, “Using other states who have medical marijuana as a reference, we estimate 1.5 to 2.5 percent adoption among the (Florida) population.”
The drug — either low-THC (non-euphoric) marijuana or full-strength marijuana — must be consumed in oil or edible form.
According to the state Department of Health, seven doctors in St. Johns County have undergone the training and testing required to evaluate patients for the use of medical marijuana. The physicians include an eye doctor, an internist, a family doctor and an orthopedic specialist. The doctors can diagnose patients and determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment but cannot dispense the drug itself.
The bill still bans smoking the marijuana, despite amendment supporters saying it is written into the language. John Morgan, who played a key role in getting the amendment on the ballot and passed, is expected to file suit over this issue in Leon County Circuit Court. 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.
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