FLORIDA: If you have heard any of the ubiquitous anti-marijuana rhetoric which predicts almost apocalyptic effects should Florida’s medical marijuana bill pass by popular vote on November 4, 2014, and constitutionally amend Florida’s State Constitution, pushers will be given official titles called “care givers,” and they will be convicted felons, will not require background checks, and will be lurking on street corners and in schoolyards. But as the Miami Herald points out in a well-balanced piece that should go a long way in defusing some of the hysteria being spread by the Sheldon Adelson funded opposition, the amendment is written in such a way which asks voters the question, “Yes” or “No” and then provides a structured time frame of regulation so as to avoid any stalling tactics to hold up implementation. Beyond that, Amendment 2 is then clearly in the hands of Florida’s Department of Health, the Florida Legislature and ultimately the Governor.
There will be no pushers on any street corners, in fact one should expect strict restrictions on public dispensing locations and a lengthy and expensive application process complete with background checks for anybody wishing to engage in any of the regulated businesses connected with the new medical marijuana industry. The regulations and rules will go through a lengthy planning process in the DOH and the Florida Legislature before they reach the Governor’s desk for signature.
If the people make their voice heard and approve medical marijuana access for qualified Florida patients, which candidate has been elected Governor in November could affect how the law is implemented the following year. Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott is opposed to the law although he does admit that marijuana has medical benefits as the conservative Florida legislature passed the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014,” and Rick Scott signed it into law. It provides for a single strain of cannabis to be allowed, low in THC and high in (CBD), Cannabidiol, and only for cancer patients, epileptics suffering from sever seizures, and patients suffering from severe muscle spasms, ignoring benefits that could be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands more patients using a variety strains which have different effects. An officially restrained form of compassion.
Former Republican Governor-turned Democratic challenger Charlie Crist supports Amendment 2, but has stated he is opposed to any suggestion of a recreational initiative for Florida. While some seem to think Governor Crist would be less likely to “over-regulate” the production and sale of medical marijuana to qualified patients, than his Republican opponent Rick Scott, Crist’s drug policies while governor, were anything but liberal. How he reacts to promulgations by the DOH remains a question, but any regulatory system Crist would be likely to sign-onto would be far from lax or low on safeguards.