Put patients above politics: Medical marijuana in Florida – Orlando Sentinel
The most divisive election in American history left most Floridians wondering, “Is there anything we can agree on?”
Turns out there is: medical cannabis. Florida voters didn’t just pass Amendment 2, they did so by the largest margin of any pro-cannabis measure in U.S. history.
So what happens next?
The new amendment goes into effect on Jan. 3, and while medical cannabis might be legal, many aspects of the new law won’t take effect right away. The Florida Department of Health has intimated that, come January, patients who did not previously qualify, but do under Amendment 2, will be able to access medical cannabis very quickly. What remains unclear is both how that will work and if the existing “Dispensing Organizations” — a term that doesn’t exist in Amendment 2 — will be able to fulfill even that initial demand.
But in any case, the department will also have to finalize new regulations by June 3 next year, and it will likely do so at the direction of the Florida Legislature, which is expected to pass implementing legislation during the spring session.
In my home state of Pennsylvania — before Nov. 8 one of the most recent states to pass a medical cannabis law — the regulatory process began in April and will finish before the New Year. It will only be eight months to regulation, and that’s for a state that previously didn’t have a law. Florida has a foundation to build from.
Florida also has the regulatory experience of Pennsylvania and 24 other states to draw upon. This is a complex and delicate process, to be sure, but it is not a reinvention of the wheel.
What should Florida look for as it implements this amendment?
A good regulatory process puts patients above politics. Even with Florida’s