Circumstances in Florida Rapidly Changing Regarding Legalization of Marijuana
We’ve discussed Florida’s Amendment 2 before, the amendment legalizing medical marijuana. More than 160,000 people across the state qualify to use medical marijuana to treat certain illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although the amendment went into effect more than two years ago, there were a number of impediments put in place by the Florida Legislature since then, such as a prohibition on smoking medical marijuana. The Legislature had purposely adjusted the voters’ call for legalization by restricting legal use for patients to pills, oils, sprays, edibles, or electronic vaping; amongst putting in place a number of other constitutionally-questionable restrictions.
Now, several court cases may finally loosen these restrictions and legalize medical marijuana in the state of Florida, as the voters intended. One case attacks the state’s prohibition on smoking; the other the prohibition placed on which businesses are allowed to become involved in the production and sale of medical marijuana. The law specifically set up a “vertical integration system,” only allowing for operators to become involved in the medical marijuana business if they participated in every process of the production chain, including as distributor, grower, processor, and retailer. As a result, only 10-14 growers were ever eligible to become licensed in the state, and many were denied a license each year.
New Administration Likely To Respect Will Of Voters
While the courts have already ruled that state lawmakers thwarted the will of voters who passed the amendment, the state has appealed, now leaving the cases unresolved. However, the incoming administration has signaled that it recognizes the attitude change, and likely will not continue to appeal these court decisions.
Changes for Classification of Hemp
Another development was the farm bill signed into law in December, which removed hemp, the portion of a marijuana plant that contains only small amounts of THC and is used in a number of Florida industries, such as textiles, from the federal controlled substances list and instead treats it as an agricultural commodity.
The Future: Recreational Marijuana in Florida?
Meanwhile, a number of advocates are also gearing up for placing an initiative related to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana on the 2020 ballot. This is reflective of state polling, which has shown that 62 percent of Floridians support legalizing and regulating marijuana. Some also anticipate that, with legalization, could come additional scientific studies into the additional benefits of marijuana.
This move is even supported by some in law enforcement, who have noted that they spend a significant amount of taxpayer funds fighting against it, as well as jailing those convicted of marijuana-related crimes.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorneys
If you have any questions about the status of marijuana in Florida, contact our team of experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today for a free consultation.