As more states in the United States embrace the legalization of marijuana, Florida is holding firm in their aims to keep it an illegal practice. Yet there are being taken to make medical marijuana legalized. What does this mean for all around legalization going forward, and have the steps had any impact thus far?
On June 16, 2014, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that exempts a specific set of patients from any criminal law against using marijuana, assuming they fit one of the following criteria:
- Suffering from certain strains of cancer
- Mental conditions that produce seizures
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
Prescriptions of medical marijuana will be available to those with these symptoms, and only those with these symptoms. This isn’t an all-encompassing bill, as many patients will still be unable to use medical marijuana to help with their pain. Another caveat to this bill dictates that only specific dispensing businesses can be set up by the state of Florida. What does this mean exactly? With specific businesses allowed, physicians will still be prohibited from prescribing marijuana to their patients; doing so would still qualify as violating federal laws, and thus necessitating an attorney that deals with drug crimes and marijuana charges. In November, Florida voters will be able to cast their vote for Amendment Two which would allow for doctors to have freedom in recommending treatment via medical marijuana.
Because of the aims of this bill, there are still regulations against independent growers, even if the intent is for medical marijuana uses. Only one of the five organizations approved by the Department of Health will have the rights and freedoms to grow the low-THC cannabis for medical use. As a result, there are many stipulations to this law that make it not as effective as those in other states. While it is a step forward, it’s still dealing with a great amount of push back.
Though the state has taken a small step towards the aim of medical legalization, there is still heavy opposition to the legalization, and therefore taxation and regulation, of marijuana. We aren’t likely to see a change in this for a very long time, and therefore there will be a continued need to have representation in cases where charges are present. As it stands now, Florida has very severe punishments for marijuana possession, and a push for medical legalization will not change that immediately. One unseen advantage that does exist through the passing of this bill is that the state of Florida should see a benefit to the economic opportunities due to the size of the industry and the potential product user base. Twenty-one other states have seen this benefit, and with the struggling economy of the state there could be a big benefit in this bill.
Changes are on the horizon, and while they may be far off, there is reason to believe that general use of marijuana could be legal in the future, so long as the current experiment states hold ground. Until that time comes, drug crimes and marijuana charges will be evident in the state of Florida. Should you be facing any of these charges, our law office can be a great resource for you.