Governor signs bill to implement Amendment 2!
Last update: June 26, 2017
Last Friday, Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 8A into law, ensuring that the Florida government will meet the deadlines outlined by Amendment 2 – to have regulations drafted by July 3, 2017 and implemented by October 3, 2017.
On June 9, 2017, in a special session of the state legislature, both the Senate and the House passed SB 8A. The bill, filled with compromises between lawmakers, outlines regulations for implementation of the hugely popular Amendment 2 passed in November.
Specifically, the bill includes 10 new licensed growers in the state in addition to the seven that already exist; requires another four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry; and allows growers to open 25 dispensaries, plus an additional five dispensaries for every 100,000 patients.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he “absolutely” intends to sign this medical marijuana implementation bill. The legislation went to the governor on June 9; despite his assurances, if the governor fails to take action, the bill will automatically take effect on June 24 if left unsigned.
Additionally, the Department of Health is expected to issue their rule making procedures, further regulating Amendment 2 in compliance with the language of SB 8A.
The future of medical marijuana is looking bright in the Sunshine State! For updates on Florida’s implementation of Amendment 2, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s alerts, if you haven’t done so already.
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.
During the 2017 legislative session, State Rep. Guillermo Smith and Sen. Jeff Clements introduced bills that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. By categorizing 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. However, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee “temporarily postponed” review of these bills. The bills could return later in the legislative session, but it is unlikely since only a few weeks of the session remain.
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