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The Latest Update on Florida’s Medical Marijuana


Medical marijuana has been one of the most contentious topics in the news these past couple of years.

State legislators can pass laws regarding “legalizing” this plant, but our federal government still considers it an illegal drug, and possession and/or use of it can still cause arrest, trials in court, and jail time for those persons caught in this illegal act by federal authorities.

In Florida, the legislature passed a bill in 2014, legalizing medical marijuana, in the hopes of avoiding a state constitutional amendment in the next election in 2016.  There are contents in the bill that caused a legal battle, setting back the activation of the new law.  (Please see my other posts about Florida medical marijuana here and here and here.)

Splashed over many headlines today, May 28th, 2015, is the announcement that Florida Administrative Hearings Judge Watkins, rejected claims by an Orange County nursery that the state’s proposed rules and regulations were unfairly developed so as to give advantage to bigger, politically connected nurseries to win the only five regional medical-marijuana-growing licenses which the law allows.

Due to this final ruling, the Florida Department of Health can file the rules and begin soliciting applications for the five licenses within three weeks.  Of course, this may be delayed again, if the Baywood Nurseries of Apopka appeals this latest decision by Judge Watkins.

The medical marijuana law was approved by the Florida Legislature in 2014 and was to be effective last July 1st; however, it got bogged down in the usual bureaucracy and challenges for nearly a year.

Florida may now start creating a statewide medical marijuana program that so far has only been proposed.  As with anything else, nothing is perfect.  There are flaws; for example:

  • It allows only five nurseries to grow, extract the oil, and sell it as medicine;
  • What other forms, if any, of the medicinal marijuana will be allowed to be manufactured and sold;
  • The law is not clear as to which non-euphoric strains other than “Charlotte’s Web” will be allowed;
  • There is no clarity as to how quickly the oil might be available;
  • There may be further challenges regarding the regulation permitting nurseries in business for 30 years or more; thereby prohibiting otherwise well-qualified nurseries from participating;
  • Time will tell if five licensed Florida nurseries will be enough to fill, as of now, the unknown demand.

As time goes by, I’m sure many other questions and problems may arise.  Unlike Colorado, which acted quickly, Florida’s governing bodies are historically usually slow-moving, but I hope that the suffering of children and adults will be alleviated by medical marijuana sooner rather than later.

[image from Bingdotcom]