Months of waiting and legislative wrangling ahead for medical marijuana – Sun Sentinel (blog)
With the passage of the medical marijuana amendment, would-be pot-shop proprietors looking to get in on the ground floor of Florida’s Green Rush are in for months of waiting and an uncertain regulatory future.
Amendment 2, passed with 71 percent of the vote, will broaden the number of patients who qualify for full-strength medical marijuana to include sufferers of HIV/AIDS, cancer, PTSD, ALS and a number of other ailments.
“Amendment 2’s passage was important, but it’s the first step of a three-step process,” said Richard Blau, the head of the Florida-wide law firm GrayRobinson’s Regulated Products Practice Group. “[The amendment] doesn’t have the detail to cover the wide variety of issues and variables that have to be defined before you have a working structure for a marijuana industry. The next step is the legislative step. Medical marijuana is going to be one of the major issues they discuss and debate.”
In its March session, the state Legislature will first have to decide how much of the regulatory scheme to leave up to the health department. But it could offer rules governing dispensaries, caregivers, physicians, taxation and defining how patients who suffer from a debilitation of “the same kind or class” as those listed can also qualify for medical marijuana.
It could also set guidelines for doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients, such as a number of hours of mandatory training. The amendment itself allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients after having given them “a physical examination and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient.”
The third step will be the Florida Department of Health’s creation of rules and regulations to implement the amendment and the laws passed by the Legislature. The constitutional amendment gives the department until July to finalize rules on