On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed medical marijuana regulation legislation into law. The legislature passed SB 8A in a special session after the regular session ended without a bill to implement Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana and was supported by 71% of voters last year.
The new law outlines licensing for 10 new companies as growers by October, which would increase the statewide total to 17. The law also allows patients, with a doctor’s recommendation, to use medical marijuana in the form of pills, oils, and edibles. Patients may engage in vaping, but unfortunately, the law does ban smoking.
Additionally, the Department of Health is simultaneously working to regulate the amendment. Spokeswoman Mara Gambineri says the department is crafting rules to comply with SB 8A, “which provides a framework for patients to access marijuana safely.”
Amendment 2 gives health officials until July 3 to craft rules to regulate the amendment and until October 3 to implement those rules.
The Florida Legislature reached an agreement to regulate medical marijuana in Florida resulting in Senator Rob Bradley filing SB-8A. Without this special session bill, the Florida Department of Health would have likely issued unduly restrictive regulations.
The bill calls for 10 new growers to be licensed this year. Five new licenses would go to previous applicants, and the other five would go to new applicants. Additionally, the bill requires four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.
Also, the number of dispensaries each grower can open will be capped at 25 – resolving the dispute that prohibited lawmakers from passing a regulation bill during regular session.
While this implementation bill is a huge step in the right direction, there is still work to be done in Florida in the coming months and years. Specifically, the bill does not fully allow patients to decide how to take medical marijuana and advocates in the Sunshine state have expressed a willingness to challenge this issue in court.
The amendment requires laws be in place by July and enacted by October, and because of this special session, it seems that the legislature will meet that target date.