Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that implements the medical marijuana amendment that voters approved last November.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed medical marijuana legislation into law. The new legislation, SB 8A, was passed by the Florida Legislature in a special session after the regular season ended without a bill even being presented. SB8 8A implements Amendment 2, which was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters last November.
“The constitutional amendment was passed overwhelmingly, and I’m glad the House and Senate were able to come together for a bill that makes sense for our state,” Gov. Scott said last month.
The amendment took effect on January 3, but gave health officials until July 3 to craft the program’s rules. The new legislation outlines licensing for 10 new companies as cannabis growers by October 3, increasing the number of total statewide growers to 17.
“This is a good day for sick and suffering Floridians. The signing of this law provides a framework for the future of our state’s medical marijuana system and while it is far from perfect, it will begin providing access to patients,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida for Care.
Florida’s medical marijuana law allows patients diagnosed with epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms, cancer, HIV and AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and terminal conditions to qualify for cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. Florida had in a place a very restrictive high-CBD, low-THC marijuana law that only allowed access to those with epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms, cancer, and terminal conditions.
“Today should be a striking reminder of the power of each and every person’s vote. The people of Florida spoke loudly in November and the Legislature and the Governor have responded,” said Taylor Patrick Biehl of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida.
Under Florida’s new law, qualified patients will be permitted to purchase cannabis oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. Patients will be able to order three 70-day supplies before having to visit their physician again for a new recommendation. Smoking marijuana is not permitted under the law.
Orlando attorney John Morgan, who funded most of the campaign for Amendment 2, is prepared to fight for patients having permission to smoke cannabis, which he believes was in the language of the original amendment. The amendment calls for the outlawing of public smoking, which Morgan argues clearly implies that private smoking would be allowed.
“I don’t know what their problem is with smoke but that’s clearly the intent of the amendment,” Morgan said. “I will get to sue them to allow medical marijuana to be smoked.”
“I think it’s silly that the legislature insists on banning the single most common method of consumption of marijuana,” Pollara added.
Florida is one of 29 U.S. states to legalize the medical use of marijuana. A market research report projects that Florida’s medical market will exceed Colorado’s by 2020.