Florida Finally Legalizes (Decriminalizes) Medical Marijuana
On March 18, Gov. Ron DeSantis overturned Florida’s ban on medical marijuana when he signed legislation overturning it into law. The legislation marks the state finally taking steps to actualize the will of the voters, who approved legalizing medical marijuana three years ago. DeSantis also dismissed the state’s appeal of the lower court’s decision declaring the ban to be unconstitutional.
The law not only increases the total allowable amount of medical marijuana per patient to 2.5 ounces (of the flower) every 35 days, but also allows for minors under the age of 18 to obtain medical marijuana if they are suffering from a terminal condition and have approval from two doctors, one of them including a second opinion from a pediatrician, and allows all patients to stockpile up to a total of four ounces; as long as they have signed an informed consent form acknowledging the product’s health risks. However, medical marijuana still cannot be smoked in public and would be enforced similarly to the cigarette smoking ban in private establishments and businesses.
Now & The Future
According to the Office of Medical Marijuana, 190,000 people have registered with active medical marijuana ID cards, alongside 2,000 physicians who are authorized to order the product for their patients. Still, it is unclear as to whether patients will be able to start using the product that they need right away: while the law is effective immediately, the Florida health department still has to craft guidelines for doctors regarding prescriptions for the substance.
However, news reports indicate that dispensaries are already opening up and distributing the product to Florida patients who already had prescriptions in areas including Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Vero Beach. These patients have previously been consuming the product in forms that the ban did not cover, such as in vape pens. However, for many of them, smoking the flower is more amenable to their conditions because the vape pens sometimes burn their throats. In addition, because the whole-flower cannabis tends to be more affordable than previous, legally-acceptable forms—such as tinctures—many expect a number of Floridians who are in need of the product to now be able to afford it where they could not before.
Many marijuana advocates now expect the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana to come up in an upcoming state ballot initiative in 2022 or 2024.
Contact Our Florida Drug Crime Defense Attorneys If You Have Questions
As Florida transitions into finally decriminalizing what the voters put into place three years ago, it can be confusing figuring out what is and is not legal—both for the public—and for law enforcement. If you have been accused of a marijuana-related crime here in Florida, contact our experienced Orlando drug defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.