So today I came across an interesting article about the lack of prioritization within the Florida gov’t when it pertains to medical marijuana. Now to some that may sound like a negative outlook for Amendment 2 (medical marijuana) supporters but in all actuality it really isn’t. There are set deadlines within Amendment 2.
January 3, 2017: Medical Marijuana is officially apart of the Florida constitution. Which means it is very hard to remove. The Department of Health must set regulations for the issuance of identification cards, qualifications and standards for applying care givers and registration of medical marijuana treatment centers within six months of the effective date. All counties, cities, towns, etc in Florida would eventually have to accept medical marijuana before the end of 2017. Now they do have a right to decide where a dispensary can operate, how late into the day it can operate & who can operate them. Either way dispensaries are coming to Florida.
March 7th, 2017: “The annual legislative session does not begin until March 7.” This isn’t so much an important date since this is a new amendment not a new law. The Department of health in Florida will be tasked with all the details for patients signing up, medical marijuana caregivers & deregulation of the current growers. This all must be completed by June.
June 3,2017: The department of health has finished writing the new medical marijuana regulations by now. The department must finish this process within 6 months. Thankfully this deadline was written into Amendment 2. If they haven’t then it will be open season for all physicians & patients to begin treatment either way. I would like to call this the Wild West situation! An amendment is in place and all patients have a right to treatment! This is the law of the land in Florida. Currently there is a 90 waiting period once a relationship has been established with a physician that has been certified to write prescriptions for medical marijuana. This will most likely be removed. Since waiting 90 days for treatment is ridiculous! You don’t have to wait 90 to receive a prescription for any other medications. Physicians also don’t have to be certified to write a prescription for each new drug! So because of this current mandate finding a licensed physician that is medical marijuana certified is very inconvenient. Gov’t officials must follow the constitution or they will be in violation of it which would make them potential criminals and liable for lawsuits.
September ,2017: Issuing of medical marijuana ID cards to patients & to newly licensed caregivers will begin. A clear path for potential growers will be established.
TALLAHASSEE – Medical marijuana’s implementation is turning out to be a slow burn.
More than 6 million Floridians voted in November to allow patients with conditions like cancer and HIV to use marijuana – nearly 2 million more than President-elect Donald Trump’s state total.
But such overwhelming support for the state constitutional amendment has not translated into urgency in the capital.
Setting rules governing a new medical marijuana industry is not a top priority for the newly elected leaders of the Legislature, Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. And Gov. Rick Scott has largely avoided weighing in on the issue.
“All I’d say on that is that we’re going to honor the will of the voters, we’re going to protect the Constitution and we’re going to protect the people’s state of Florida,” said Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.
This, at least, is a point of agreement between Corcoran and Negron, whose relationship is already marked by sharp divisions over the state budget and rules for lobbyists.
What that means for state policy, however, is uncertain. Despite the amendment’s popularity, neither Corcoran nor Negron mentioned medical marijuana at the ceremonial organizational session late last month until reporters pressed them for details.
Corcoran, who opposed medical marijuana on the ballot, is an outspoken supporter of free-market public policy, particularly in health care, but he has not elaborated on the specifics of how that would play into creating a tightly regulated industry for medical marijuana.
Negron, R-Stuart, remained silent on Amendment 2 through the campaign.
A trusted ally, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was an early supporter of medical marijuana and plans to file a medical marijuana bill in the Senate. Brandes’ proposal would open up the market to competition among a large number of growers and sellers.
Negron echoes Corcoran, saying he wants to implement the amendment “verbatim” and that he plans to follow the voters’ wishes “fully both in letter and in spirit.”
No marijuana legislation has been filed yet, but few bills of any kind have. The annual legislative session does not begin until March 7.
Already, moneyed interests are hiring lobbyists to influence the outcome.
Growers licensed under a small medical cannabis program already in state law have registered to lobby the House. They have limited customers under the current program, which allows certain patients, like children with severe epilepsy, to use a strain of marijuana that doesn’t cause a euphoric high. It also allows the terminally ill to use full-strength pot.
Other companies that may apply for future licenses to grow have hired advocates, too.
And Florida for Care, the group behind Amendment 2, this week hired lobbyists of its own.
“We want to be very reasonable … and to do everything in our power to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the group.
Florida for Care argues that the voters intended to allow marijuana as treatment for more conditions, including cancer and HIV, and to expand the industry to include more competition from more growers. But the group’s No. 1 goal next year will be passing a law that avoids a court battle, Pollara said.
The Florida Department of Health, which is charged with overseeing medical marijuana, plans to begin writing regulations on Jan. 3 when Amendment 2 goes into effect. It’s the same agency that took more than two years to put into place the limited medical cannabis program passed by lawmakers in 2014.
Health officials have six months from that date to approve rules for the program, but a declaration on its website further complicates matters.
The page says that “the expanded qualifying medical conditions will become effective on January 3, 2017.”
Asked for details, health department officials have been unclear about what that means.
Yes, the added list of conditions goes into effect next month, spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said. However, she noted, “the Florida Department of Health, physicians, dispensing organizations, and patients remain bound by existing law and rule.”
The laws already on the books limit full-strength marijuana to terminally ill patients and don’t include the more wide-ranging set of conditions the voters passed.
Original article by: Michael Auslen Tampa Bay Times
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