November 10, 2016
Wading the political waters of Florida is a difficult task. It’s tough to predict which way voters will lean, but on Tuesday Amendment 2 passed.
This means that starting January 3, 2017 medical cannabis will be legal in Florida. However for growers, Amendment 2 wasn’t the slam dunk that Massachusetts’ Question 4 was, and in a lot of ways Amendment 2 has just created more questions.
A lot is still up in the air
Amendment 2 in its entirety is only five pages long. That’s it. It’s one of the shortest laws passed in the country’s history, and it leaves a lot in the hands of the state’s politicians. Its open ended nature also means that growers should be prepared to be disappointed.
The direction that Amendment 2 takes will largely be dictated by Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s surgeon general and secretary of health, Dr. Celeste Philip. Traditionally, Scott, who is a Republican, has been against legalizing both recreational and medicinal cannabis. However to the shock of many Floridians, Scott did sign laws that provided limited medicinal access to cannabis oils with a low THC concentrate. Although it remains to be seen, it does appear that Florida’s medicinal guidelines will be more conservative.
The Health Department will have until June 3, 2017 to finalize the necessary regulations. They will be in charge of issuing licenses and regulating dispensaries. Currently, there are no guidelines for dispensaries, so growers are waiting to see exactly how dispensaries will obtain their cannabis. It is still in play that dispensaries will be able to grow and sell their own product, which could present some hurdles to growers looking to get involved.
The possession limits are also to be set by the Health Department.
What Amendment 2 does specify is that patients will need a letter from a doctor and a state-issued ID card. The first ID cards must be issued by September 3, 2017.
Amendment 2 does ensure that politicians can’t stifle the process. If the deadlines laid out in the law aren’t met, it states that citizens can find “judicial relief.”