Legislative session begins!
Last update: March 10, 2017
Florida’s legislative session began on March 7, 2017 and will continue for 60 consecutive days with the possibility for extension. MPP is closely monitoring both medical marijuana implementation and decriminalization bills.
Medical marijuana implementation plans are being introduced and discussed in both chambers of the Legislature. Florida’s Amendment 2, favored by 71% of voters in November 2016, will expand the previously limited Florida medical marijuana law. Currently, there are six implementation plans – five in the state Senate and one in the House. No one plan has a scheduled committee hearing in the other chamber, so it still seems that the House and Senate are not yet approaching a solution. Notably, Sen. Jeff Brandes’ bill would strengthen the medical marijuana industry, expanding the medical marijuana marketplace by eliminating the cap on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers and establishing four new types of licenses for growing, processing, transporting, and dispensing, as well as detailing a system for attaining medical marijuana ID cards and physician recommendations.
In February, the Florida Department of Health held five public workshops in municipalities across the state, providing an opportunity for the public to voice concerns over the proposed guidelines for implementation of the medical marijuana program established by Amendment 2. Unfortunately, the Department of Health’s proposed guidelines are too restrictive and inconsistent with the overwhelmingly popular amendment. Hundreds of medical marijuana advocates attended the Department’s public hearings and argued that the proposed regulations would restrict access to medical marijuana and would limit the number of prescribing physicians. MPP also submitted public comments criticizing the Department’s proposed regulations. You can read our submission here.
Additionally, State Rep. Guillermo Smith and Sen. Jeff Clements have introduced bills which would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. By recategorizing misdemeanor possession of marijuana as a noncriminal civil violation, these bills could eliminate the severe, disproportionate effects of a criminal offense. If passed, the bills would allow for adults with a “personal use quantity of cannabis” (one ounce or less) to face a civil penalty of no more than $100 or 15 hours of community service.
Tell your legislators to support common sense marijuana laws here!
History of Florida’s medical marijuana law
Prior the passage of Amendment 2, Florida had a flawed law that allowed a limited group of patients to access marijuana that was low in THC (less than 0.8%) and high in CBD. The first dispensary of low-THC cannabis opened in Tallahassee on July 26, 2016. The legislature expanded this law in its 2016 session by passing HB 307, which would have allowed terminally ill patients to access other forms of medical cannabis. A summary of that law is available here.
Decriminalization policies adopted across Florida
Since June 2015, a new trend has taken root across Florida — several cities and counties have passed similar ordinances that give officers the discretion to replace arrests for possession of under 20 grams of marijuana with citations. These jurisdictions include Miami-Dade County, Tampa, Key West, 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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