Exciting update for medical marijuana in Florida! There are currently more patients than current medical marijuana businesses could actually support. This means the State of Florida must allow more businesses to enter this new industry. More medical marijuana growers, caregivers, dispensaries & physicians are needed to support the potential 650,000 patients. The Senate Health Policy Committee & the Department of Health in Florida are under pressure to make regulations the aren’t too restrictive for incoming startup medical marijuana related ventures. Since medical marijuana is tied to an Amendment the State of Florida must honor this despite the feelings of any politician that is against the pro cannabis movement. There have been certain counties, towns & cities placing memorandums to hold off when & where dispensaries can be open for business but these are only temporary (12 months at the max). Medical marijuana passed in Florida on November 8th, 2016 with an approval rating of 71.3 percent! Every county in Florida passed the 60 percent threshold needed for it to pass. So it is official that if you are against medical marijuana in Florida you are in the minority.
The article below was by The News Service of Florida:
A Senate panel Tuesday began exploring issues surrounding medical marijuana as lawmakers prepare to carry out a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.
The Senate Health Policy Committee heard from a cannabis vendor, patient advocates, doctors and opponents of Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients and set Florida in position to become one of the largest pot markets in the nation.
“The voters have spoken. It is our duty as their elected representatives to implement this amendment appropriately,” committee Chairwoman Dana Young, R-Tampa, said at the onset of the two-hour meeting.
One of the biggest issues facing the Legislature is whether to expand the number of businesses authorized by the state to grow, process and distribute marijuana to an estimated 500,000 patients who would be eligible for the treatment when the amendment goes into effect in January.
Florida lawmakers first approved non-euphoric medical marijuana for a limited number of patients in 2014 and expanded the law to include full-strength pot for terminally ill patients early this year.
The Florida Department of Health has issued licenses to six “dispensing organizations” and could issue three more, once the number of patients in a statewide registry reaches 250,000. The Legislature added the provision for the additional licenses during the spring session in anticipation that the constitutional amendment would pass.
But Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the “United for Care” political committee that backed the initiative, told the Senate panel on Tuesday that the current number of licenses would not meet the expectations of voters or the language of the amendment, which requires health officials to issue “reasonable” regulations regarding medical marijuana.
Since the initiative received more than 70 percent approval in November, “it is more than a fair assessment to say that a vote for Amendment 2 was a vote to expand the market here,” Pollara said.
The six dispensing organizations now authorized to sell medical marijuana were supposed to provide products to an estimated 100,000 patients, Pollara said.
To expect those businesses to serve a consumer base five times greater than anticipated “simply doesn’t make sense,” he added.
But Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, the head of the first company to start distributing medical marijuana in Florida, told the committee that her organization now has the capacity to serve 72,000 patients and would soon be able to provide products to 650,000 patients.
About 1,300 patients eligible for medical marijuana under the laws passed in 2014 and early this year are registered in a statewide database, and 240 doctors have received the training required to order the treatment, state Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax said Tuesday.
Those numbers are expected to escalate after the amendment goes into effect next month, Bax predicted.