Medical marijuana will be on the ballot in 2016
Last update: August 16, 2016
This November, Florida voters will get a chance to vote on Amendment 2, which would create an effective medical marijuana program in the state. United for Care — which led a 2014 medical marijuana campaign — has collected the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The measure would require the Department of Health to regulate medical marijuana treatment centers, which would cultivate and dispense cannabis to qualifying patients who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition and have a physician’s certification and a valid identification card. You can read the initiative language here.
Although MPP is not running this campaign, we are excited that Florida voters will have a chance to show compassion and allow seriously ill Floridians access to the medicine they need. Getting on the ballot is only the beginning of the effort, however. Although polls show that 77% of Florida voters support the initiative, (60% of the vote is required to win under Florida law), the opposition has raised nearly two million dollars to air deceptive and misleading TV ads. You can click here to help the campaign fight back. You can also help by talking to your friends and family about why you support medical marijuana, using our talking points.
Small steps forward under current flawed medical marijuana law
On March 25, 2016, Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 307, which slightly expanded Florida’s existing medical marijuana law. The law already exempted a very limited group of patients from criminal laws for using marijuana that is low in THC (less than 0.8%) and high in CBD if certain requirements were met.
HB 307 allows patients to access other forms of medical cannabis — but only if they are terminally ill, defined as expected to die within a year without life-sustaining procedures. The new law continues to leave many patients behind; an updated summary of Florida’s current law is available here.
In addition, the first dispensary of low-THC cannabis opened in Tallahassee on July 26, 2016. Unfortunately, even patients who qualify under the current law may struggle to find a doctor willing to participate in the program, as the law imposes onerous requirements on physicians. Due to the small pool of qualifying patients, it is also unlikely that these dispensaries will be financially viable in the long term, making Amendment 2’s passage important even for those patients who are protected by existing laws.
Decriminalization spreads across Florida
Since June 2015, a new trend has taken root across Florida — several cities and counties have taken steps to give officers the discretion to replace arrests for possession of under 20 grams of marijuana with citations. The latest additions to the list are Tampa and Orlando.
While this is a positive sign, in some jurisdictions, payment of the citation could still result in a criminal record, and some police departments have said that they will continue to arrest everyone in possession of marijuana, so caution should be exercised. For more information, please see our summary of the measures.
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