Medical marijuana will be on the ballot in 2016

 

Last update: May 2, 2016

 

This November, Florida voters will get a chance to vote on medical marijuana. 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.

Although MPP is not part of the 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. Florida had a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2014, which narrowly lost with 58% of the vote (a 60% supermajority is required by Florida law). But, voters in a presidential election tend to be younger, on average, and therefore more likely to support marijuana policy reform. In addition, the initiative language has been changed in response to concerns raised by some opponents of the last initiative. You can help by talking to your friends and family about why you support medical marijuana, using our talking points.


Tiny steps forward from the legislature

 

On March 25, 2016, Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 307, which will slightly expand Florida’s current 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 will continue to leave many patients behind and may not help even those it’s meant to, since it continues to impose onerous requirements on doctors. An updated summary of Florida’s current law is available here.


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 addition to the list is Tampa, whose mayor, Bob Buckhorn, signed the ordinance on March 23, 2016.

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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Pending Legislation