Last Update: June 16, 2014
Florida Legislature passes CBD bill; ballot measure to create medical marijuana law on November’s ballot
Shortly before adjourning the 2014 legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed a bill that will exempt a limited group of very sick people from criminal laws for using marijuana that is low in THC and high in CBD if certain requirements are met. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on June 16, 2014. Unfortunately, the law leaves many patients behind and may not help even those it’s meant to. A summary of the new law is available here.
The bill allows patients with cancer and conditions that result in chronic seizures or severe muscle spasms to use cannabis that contains 0.8% THC or lower and 10% CBD or higher. Patients can administer the medicine via pills, oils, or vaporization. Smoking is prohibited. The bill also requires the state to register five dispensing businesses, spread out across the state, to grow and dispense the medical marijuana. Unfortunately, the bill places heavy burdens on physicians who wish to recommend marijuana to their patients, arguably forcing them to violate federal laws in order to do so.
Florida took a small step forward this year, but the law is so incomplete that MPP will not be counting it as a “medical marijuana state.” However, the voters of Florida will have the opportunity to enact a comprehensive, workable medical marijuana law this November by voting “yes” on Amendment Two.
Bill introduced to legalize, regulate marijuana
Florida's penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana are among the nation's most draconian. Sadly, the damages caused by these inappropriately harsh criminal laws are disproportionately placed on Florida’s African American population. According to a study by the ACLU, African Americans in Florida are over four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors.
While Florida continues to harshly punish marijuana users, St. Pete's Polls found that 58.8% of Floridians “think that marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol and be made legal for any adult to use.” Rep. Randolph Bracy introduced legislation that would have replaced marijuana prohibition with reasonable regulations, allowing Florida to control who is selling marijuana, where, and to whom. Unfortunately, the legislation was not voted on, but all Floridians should email their lawmakers in support of sensible marijuana policies. Finally, if you are a victim of marijuana prohibition and would like to help reform the current laws, please let us know.
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Courts reject suspicionless drug testing law
The 2011 law signed by Gov. Scott requiring new applicants for temporary welfare assistance funded by the TANF to undergo, and pay for out of pocket, mandatory and suspicionless drug tests continues to face many welcome challenges and bad press. The ACLU sued to enjoin implementation of the law, and it was declared unconstitutional in October 2011. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the more conservative federal appeals courts, upheld the decision. In April 2014, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear Gov. Scott’s appeal, letting the appeal court decision stand.
However, despite failing at every level, Gov. Rick Scott continues his quest to drug test welfare recipients. The governor has filed a brief in appellate court seeking to re-argue the state’s right to drug test all individuals seeking welfare benefits.
Court established defense
Despite the fact that a medical necessity defense has been established by Florida case law, patients remain at risk of being arrested and jailed because legislators have yet to enact a medical marijuana law. To review a 1991 case that outlines Florida's medical necessity defense, click here.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Florida, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.