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Medical Marijuana In Florida: A Roundup Of What Cannabis Advocates Need To Know

Benzinga logo Benzinga 8/5/2022 Joana Scopel
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Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level and is still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), some states have approved the medical use of cannabis. This is the case in the Sunshine State (FL).

In 2017, Florida enacted the "Medical Use of Marijuana Act" which specifically governs the state's public health system, implementing rules to make medical marijuana available to qualified state citizens.

As of 2022, "nearly 3% of Florida's population is registered on the state's medical marijuana registry," reported Reuters.

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History Of Marijuana Legislation In Florida

In 2014, was enacted the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act provided patients access to medicinal marijuana (also known as 'Charlotte's Web Act' or 'Act'). The act stated that "terminally ill cancer patients or epilepsy patients would be allowed to consume low-THC cannabis without penalty."

However, the bill established “a first-degree misdemeanor penalty for physicians who order low-THC cannabis for patients without a reasonable belief that the patient suffers from the required conditions or symptoms and for any person who fraudulently represents that he or she has such symptoms.”

The Florida Department of Health established the Office of Compassionate Use and the Compassionate Use Registry for the purpose of administering the medical cannabis program, as well as serving as an online database for the registration of medical treatment patients and providers.

To expand access provided by the Act was proposed the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative (Amendment 2) although was not approved.

However, in 2014, Florida's Amendment 2 became part of Florida's Constitution on Jan. 3, 2017, seeking to expand access to medical marijuana to "persons diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition" such as cancer, epilepsy, and "other debilitating medical conditions (…) for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient."

Office Of Medical Marijuana Use

Additionally, to implement the rules and regulations of the statute and maintain the Medical Marijuana Use (MMU) Registry, the Florida Department of Health established the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU).

One of the functions of the OMMU is to license Florida businesses to grow, process, and dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients and certified marijuana testing laboratories to ensure the public's health and safety regarding the use of marijuana.

"The Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) is moving forward with administrative rulemaking to establish an application process to award up to 22 additional Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses," stated OMMU through its website since black farmers are still waiting for their licenses to be issued as regulated by the Florida Legislature. "The application rule and the date the OMMU will begin accepting applications will be published in the Florida Administrative Register."

Medical Use Of Marijuana: Florida’s MMJ Statute

Florida's medical marijuana statute, which modified the previously enacted Charlotte's Web Act, removed the previous 90-day waiting period to obtain medicinal products and does not limit the maximum concentration of THC that MMJ products may contain.

According to the statute, patients can only legally purchase cannabis through regulated and established Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) licensed via the OMMU.

However, the statute prohibits medical marijuana patients from using cannabis in their workplace without the express permission of their employer.

What's Next?

In July 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill titled the "Cannabis Management and Opportunity Act" that seeks to decriminalize marijuana and allow states to create their own cannabis-related laws.

This bill could potentially affect the current CSA classification of marijuana as a Schedule I illegal substance and, in turn, potentially affect an employee's entitlement under the Florida Medical Marijuana Statute.

Until then, current state and federal regulations state that Florida employers do not have to tolerate the possession or use of medical marijuana by an employee in Florida.

Meanwhile, new medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open in the state. Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (TCNNF: TRUL) recently opened a new dispensary in Kissimmee, Florida.

"Trulieve is proud to continue being at the forefront of expanding access to medical marijuana for Florida's patient population," stated Trulieve's CEO Kim Rivers, "Trulieve is committed to investing in the Kissimmee community, as well as offering patients access to high-quality products and providing exceptional customer experiences."

Photo: Courtesy Of Karl Callwood On Unsplash

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