Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation
For the most part, the Florida state legislation relating to medical marijuana is wrapped up within Amendment 2. The legislation includes the guidelines and protocols that govern how medical marijuana is regulated within the state of Florida.
While the legislation specifically identifies which diseases are approved for treatment with medical marijuana, the language in the legislation goes on to state that: “…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.”
Therefore, while the physician must have some kind of medical rationale for prescribing marijuana, including for off-label uses for medical marijuana, there is some latitude through which medical marijuana can be prescribed for other non-listed diseases.
Perhaps the other most important section within Article X of Amendment 2 is that which establishes what are referred to as medical marijuana treatment centers or MMTCs. MMTCs are the governing point at which medical marijuana is actually dispensed to the patient in the state of Florida. MMTCs are established as centers which actively, “acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes…transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana….”
These are the centers which must be established in order to legally fill a prescription for medical marijuana and the legislation provides the legal platform for their existence. The legislation also provides the mechanisms through which these MMTCs are to be established.
Additionally legislative bills have been or are being considered which expand both the number of available MMTCs as well as the scope of patients that can receive prescriptions for medical marijuana. One such bill (SB 406) seeks to expand the number of approved MMTCs and to include language within Amendment 2 that allows for prescription of medical marijuana for “compassionate uses.” These measures in current legislation would have a significant positive impact on the general availability of medical marijuana throughout the state.
Finally, state legislation also provided fairly specific punitive measures for those who violate any aspect of the regulations governing medical marijuana. For example, physicians who are found to either illegally or abusively prescribe marijuana are subject to a misdemeanor offense while patients who are found to fraudulently misrepresent a qualifying illness are also subject to the same criminal prosecution.
Likewise, those patients who do obtain a legal prescription for medical marijuana must conform to existing rules governing the use of a regulated product in public spaces, school grounds and during vehicular operation.
However, many of these regulatory elements are commonsense in character and should provide no real barrier to the legal appropriation of medical marijuana.