On June 23, Florida Gov. Rick Scott finally signed legislation to implement Amendment 2, the voter-approved constitutional amendment to permit medical marijuana. The legislation, adopted during a special session of the Florida legislature, creates an overall regulatory framework to ensure patient access to medical marijuana. Among other provisions, the new law will significantly increase the number of organizations licensed to dispense medical marijuana.
State to Approve Up to 19 “Treatment Centers” by the End of 2017
While Amendment 2 declares that the “medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver” will not be “subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law,” that does not mean you can simply start smoking a joint because you have glaucoma. Indeed, under the legislation signed by Gov. Scott, it is still illegal to smoke marijuana, even with a physician’s approval. Instead, patients with a prescription must obtain a supply from a state-licensed dispensary, dubbed “medical marijuana treatment centers” in the new legislation.
A patient can only receive a 70-day supply from a treatment center. The patient may get up to two additional 70-day refills off a single prescription. In other words, a physician must “recertify” the patient requires medical marijuana at least once every 30 weeks.
Currently there are only seven approved treatment centers in the state, including Knox Medical in Orlando and Trulieve and Surterra Therapeutics in Tampa. Most of these treatment centers will also deliver medical marijuana, although it cannot be mailed. It must be personally delivered by employees of the treatment center.
Under the new legislation, the state’s Department of Health must license 10 additional treatment centers over the next few months. The first five dispensaries, chosen from a group passed over during the initial round of licensing, must be approved by August 1. The remaining five will be approved no later than October and must include at least one black farmer. By the end of 2017, there could be up to 19 approved treatment centers.
Each treatment center may operate up to 25 dispensaries or “retail” locations statewide. These 25 locations must be allocated across different regions of the state as specified by the new regulations. But for every additional 100,000 medical marijuana patients registered with the state, the statewide cap will increase by 5 locations. The Department of Health forecasts there will be more than 472,000 medical marijuana patients by 2022, although the caps are set to expire in 2020.
Still Confused About Florida’s Medical Marijuana Laws?
The market for medical marijuana is clearly growing in Florida. But many legal challenges still remain. At least one grower has sued the state over the new legislation, alleging it was “wrongfully refused” a license. And there may be additional litigation over the continued ban on smoking medical marijuana.
You may have still many questions about whether you are eligible for medical marijuana and how you can legally obtain it. If you need legal advice from an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney on any matter related to marijuana use, please call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at law, at 407-377-0150.