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By Jessica Travis on Friday, January 14, 2017
Two years after its initial defeat, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was back on Florida ballots in November 2016. This time around Florida voters voted in favor of the amendment with 71.32% of the voters voting “yes” for the use of medical marijuana. Now that Florida has become a legal medical marijuana state, many Floridians are now asking questions about access, distribution, sales and the use of medical marijuana.
Amendment 2 officially became effective on January 3, 2017, but this does not mean that patients can now run out and get medical marijuana at their local pharmacy, nor does it mean that street marijuana can be considered legal for medical uses. Following January 3, the Florida Department of Health has 6 months to formulate the rules for Amendment 2, and 9 months to implement these rules.
One thing to know is that there are two types of marijuana used for
medical purposes: low-THC marijuana and medical marijuana. Low-THC marijuana contains very low amounts of the compound THC, and therefore does not result in the “high” associated with medical marijuana. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 provided the regulatory framework for low-THC in Florida. Low-THC is available to patients suffering from cancer, or any other physical medical condition that produces chronic symptoms of severe and persistent muscle spasms and seizures or symptoms of cancer or any other physical medical condition that produces chronic symptoms of severe and persistent muscle spasms and seizures.
Amendment 2 allows the use of medical marijuana for “debilitating medical conditions.” Medical Marijuana contains significant levels of THC, resulting in the “high” sensation. The list of medical conditions required for the use of medical marijuana includes: Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and any other condition of the same severity/symptoms that the medical use of marijuana would surpass any potential health risks.
Only a qualified physician can order medical marijuana for a patient. A qualifying physician must hold an active, unrestricted license as a physician, and must have successfully completed an 8-hour continuing education course and exam. To find qualified physicians, or to get more information about Amendment 2 and medical marijuana, visit the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use website at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/index.html.
To become a medical marijuana patient in Florida, the patient must be a Florida resident with a valid Florida ID, and must be at least 18 years old, or, if under 18, must have a second physician agree to the use of medical marijuana to obtain an order from a qualified physician. The patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, and must have tried other treatments without success. The patient must have their qualifying condition confirmed by their primary care physician, and receive a second evaluation by a board-certified physician specializing in that qualifying condition. The patient can thing begin seeing a qualified physician to begin the process of obtaining an order for medical marijuana. Before the order can be given, the patient must have been seeking treatment from the
qualified physician for at least three months, and the qualified physician must register the patient in the Compassionate Use Registry.
Once a patient obtains an order for medical marijuana, they can then contact one of the six licensed dispensing organizations in the state of Florida and fill their order. Patients are allowed no more than a 45-day supply, and they are not permitted to grow their own marijuana. The medical marijuana will be inspected and tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption and free from contaminants.
While people may begin to go through the steps to obtain medical marijuana, right now it is still illegal to consume and possess, and people can still be arrested and go to jail for it. Once the legislation has been put in place, if all of the steps required to possess and use medical marijuana are not taken, a person can still be arrested and charged with a crime. It is also important to remember that while medical marijuana is now legal under Florida law, it still remains illegal under federal law and can be prosecuted as a federal crime.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime relating to marijuana, or any other drug or controlled substance, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge and experience in this aspect of the law.
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