Medical Marijuana in Florida: We Like Its Chances In 2016

Florida has a troubled relationship with cannabis to say the least. Though the state passed its own limited medical marijuana laws under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, qualifying patients are still unable to access the medicine they need because the dispensing rules are on hold while under serious legal challenge. In addition, Amendment 2, which would have given Florida a comprehensive medical marijuana system, failed at the polls this past November.

But those in favor of Amendment 2 vow that the fight for a comprehensive medical marijuana regime in Florida is not over. In fact, John Morgan (the main financial backer of Amendment 2) and his team are back with a revised medical marijuana Amendment, shooting for passage in 2016 and assuring Florida voters that the alleged “loopholes” in Amendment 2 have been closed in this new draft.

The opposition to Amendment 2 made some pretty absurd claims about cannabis — remember the “cannabis is the new date rape drug” ads? But the more mainstream complaints against Amendment 2 were the following:

  1. Amendment 2 would have given doctors an unrestricted license to dish out cannabis recommendations;
  2. Any “medical condition” could qualify for a cannabis recommendation thereby proliferating unlawful “recreational use”; and
  3. “Personal caregivers” lacked significant oversight from the state.

From what we can tell, this 2016 Amendment is really just a slight revision of the old one. The revised Amendment still allows for the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Morgan though is asserting that the new proposed Amendment makes the following significant changes from the failed 2014 Amendment:

  1. It mandates that the Florida Department of Health verify parental consent before a doctor can recommend marijuana to a minor.
  2. It clarifies the debilitating conditions eligible for cannabis and it rules out all other conditions.
  3. It clarifies that doctors who recommend marijuana cannot be arrested for their recommendations, but that they are not immune from civil lawsuits for negligence or for malpractice.
  4. It clarifies that the Department of Health must establish quality standards for caregivers.

Morgan filed the 2016 Amendment with the Secretary of State in Tallahassee earlier this month and he and his campaigners are now seeking to gather enough signatures to get the new Amendment on the ballot.

Floridians who favor a more complete medical marijuana regime should be excited for 2016. Amendment 2 garnered 58% of the vote, falling short of passing by only 2%. If Florida can this time substitute earnest and reality-based eduction about how cannabis would actually help people, while at the same time reducing by at least half the massive influx of get rich quick carpetbaggers with their “cannabis colleges” and their quickly formed “industry organizations,” we think the new Amendment’s chances will be quite good.

We still have high hopes for Florida MMJ in 2016. What do you think?