On November 8th, 2016 the people of Florida passed the legislation known as Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Amendment 2. The bill required a super-majority vote to pass, which requires at least 60% of the vote to pass. The bill easily passed the super-majority with 71.32% of the vote, or 6,518,919 votes in favor of the bill and 2,621,845 votes (or 28.68%) against the bill. The law officially went into effect on January 3rd, 2017.
The original petition for the legislation can be found here.
The goal of the bill was to require the Florida Department of Health to regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana, and to administrate a database of patients and caregivers who are allowed to possess medical marijuana. The database is used by marijuana dispensaries (i.e. marijuana sellers), caregivers, physicians, and law enforcement, to verify that a person is registered as a medical marijuana patient with the state and able to legally buy and consume marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Amendment 2 also required the Florida Department of Health to create regulations for defining the qualifications and standards of care givers, along with rules for the registration of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (or MMTCs.) The regulations were required within six months of the effective date of the bill, which was January 8, 2017. The Florida DOH submitted it's inital proposal for rules and regulating the medical marijuana industry in Florida.
Below is full text of the constitutional amendment that allows for purchasing and consumption of medical marijuana in Florida.
ARTICLE X, SECTION 29 Medical marijuana production, possession and use
- The medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver in compliance with this section is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.
- A physician shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law solely for issuing a physician certification with reasonable care to a person diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in compliance with this section.
- Actions and conduct by a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center registered with the Department, or its agents or employees, and in compliance with this section and Department regulations, shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.
For purposes of this section, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
- “Debilitating Medical Condition” means cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.
- “Department” means the Department of Health or its successor agency.
- “Identification card” means a document issued by the Department that identifies a qualifying patient or a caregiver.
- “Marijuana” has the meaning given cannabis in Section 893.02(3), Florida Statutes (2014), and, in addition, “Low-THC cannabis” as defined in Section 381.986(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2014), shall also be included in the meaning of the term “marijuana.”
- “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center” (MMTC) means an entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes (including development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments), transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the Department.
- “Medical use” means the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with Department rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.
- “Caregiver” means a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana and has qualified for and obtained a caregiver identification card issued by the Department. The Department may limit the number of qualifying patients a caregiver may assist at one time and the number of caregivers that a qualifying patient may have at one time. Caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for medical use by the qualifying patient.
- “Physician” means a person who is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.
- “Physician certification” means a written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient, and for how long the physician recommends the medical use of marijuana for the patient. A physician certification may only be provided after the physician has conducted a physical examination and a full assessment of the medical history of the patient. In order for a physician certification to be issued to a minor, a parent or legal guardian of the minor must consent in writing.
- “Qualifying patient” means a person who has been diagnosed to have a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card. If the Department does not begin issuing identification cards within nine (9) months after the effective date of this section, then a valid physician certification will serve as a patient identification card in order to allow a person to become a "qualifying patient" until the Department begins issuing identification cards.
- Nothing in this section allows for a violation of any law other than for conduct in compliance with the provisions of this section.
- Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production, or sale of marijuana.
- Nothing in this section authorizes the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.
- Nothing in this section shall permit the operation of any vehicle, aircraft, train or boat while under the influence of marijuana.
- Nothing in this section requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.
- Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any correctional institution or detention facility or place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.
- Nothing in this section shall require any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.
- Nothing in this section shall affect or repeal laws relating to negligence or professional malpractice on the part of a qualified patient, caregiver, physician, MMTC, or its agents or employees.
DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT
The Department shall issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients. It is the duty of the Department to promulgate regulations in a timely fashion.
- Implementing Regulations. In order to allow the Department sufficient time after passage of this section,
the following regulations shall be promulgated no later than six (6) months after the effective date of
- Procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of qualifying patient identification cards to people with physician certifications and standards for renewal of such identification cards. Before issuing an identification card to a minor, the Department must receive written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, in addition to the physician certification.
- Procedures establishing qualifications and standards for caregivers, including conducting appropriate background checks, and procedures for the issuance and annual renewal of caregiver identification cards.
- Procedures for the registration of MMTCs that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety.
- A regulation that defines the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients’ medical use, based on the best available evidence. This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient’s appropriate medical use.
- Identification cards and registrations. The Department shall begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTCs no later than nine (9) months after the effective date of this section.
- If the Department does not issue regulations, or if the Department does not begin issuing identification cards and registering MMTCs within the time limits set in this section, any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief to compel compliance with the Department’s constitutional duties.
- The Department shall protect the confidentiality of all qualifying patients. All records containing the identity of qualifying patients shall be confidential and kept from public disclosure other than for valid medical or law enforcement purposes.
- Implementing Regulations. In order to allow the Department sufficient time after passage of this section, the following regulations shall be promulgated no later than six (6) months after the effective date of this section:
Nothing in this section shall limit the legislature from enacting laws consistent with this section.
The provisions of this section are severable and if any clause, sentence, paragraph or section of this measure, or an application thereof, is adjudged invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction other provisions shall continue to be in effect to the fullest extent possible
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