Florida’s new medical marijuana law went into effect this week, but patients will need to wait about six more months before they can purchase cannabis from dispensaries. CBD hemp oil remains available.
As of Tuesday, January 3, medical marijuana is officially legal in the state of Florida. Amendment 2, passed with 71 percent voter support in November, expands the state’s previously limited cannabis program to include access to full medical marijuana.
Despite Amendment 2 going into effect, patients and doctors must wait longer before medical marijuana is available to purchase at dispensaries. The Florida Legislature and Department of Health is still working on establishing the program’s rules and regulations, which CBS affiliate WPTV reports is expected to happen by September 9. Under the law, the state has to begin registering growers and dispensaries and issue identification cards by October. If the legislature fails to begin issuing licenses and ID cards by the deadline, citizens have the right to sue.
“The notion that medical marijuana [amendment] becomes effective is a little anticlimactic,” Ben Pollara, executive chairman of advocacy group Florida for Care, told the Miami Herald. “It’s effective as a point of law. But before anybody can see access to medical marijuana under this new law, there needs to be rulemaking and regulations passed by the Legislature.”
Once the program is up and running, patients with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or any other debilitating medical condition will be able to access medicinal cannabis. Patients will be limited to non-smokable marijuana products like oils, tinctures or capsules, and cannot legally cultivate cannabis at home.
Patients must have been seeing a doctor for at least three months before they can receive a medical marijuana recommendation. More than 340 Florida doctors have so far completed the required eight-hour course and examination and are registered to participate in the program.
“There are many patients with cancer, neurological disorders or serious digestive problems that are waiting with hope of using a natural product,” Silvia Bentancor, an internist in Southwest Miami-Dade, told the Miami Herald.
When medical marijuana does become available to patients, the industry is expected to be big economically for the state of Florida. A recent report from New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research estimates that Florida’s medical marijuana market will grow to $1.6 billion by 2020, exceeding Colorado’s market.
Until the Department of Health finishes crafting the new regulations, the only patients who can access medicinal cannabis must fall under Florida’s old very restrictive law, the Compassionate Use Act of 2014.
“We’re in this, like funky gray period right now where you’ve got medical marijuana in the state constitution but with no regulation,” said Pollara.
Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s lineup of cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil products, including Real Scientific Hemp OilTM, continues to be legal to buy in Florida and all U.S. states, without the requirement of a prescription or medical marijuana identification card.
Florida was one of eight states to approve marijuana measures in November. The U.S. now has 28 states that have passed comprehensive medical marijuana laws.