Patients in Florida suffering from a variety of ailments will technically be eligible to use legal medical marijuana as a form of treatment on Tuesday. However, the state still has months to go before dispensary rules and regulations must be officially implemented, which could potentially leave patients without access to medical cannabis for quite some time.
On Election Day, 71 percent of voters approved Florida’s Amendment 2, a measure legalizing medical pot for people diagnosed with HIV, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS and a slew of other illnesses under a doctor’s prescription.
The state formerly passed legislation allowing low THC dosages of non-smokeable medical marijuana in 2014, but Florida’s Department of Health still has six months to update current dispensing rules to satisfy the new laws along with another nine months the department has to implement the new regulations. Only seven dispensaries are authorized to provide marijuana across the state under the former law, and only five weed nurseries are licensed to grow the plant in the state so far, so many Floridians could be without a place to purchase their legal medical marijuana until the end of 2017 or even 2018.
Along with the Department of Health dragging their feet to implement a new dispensing structure, local cities and counties throughout Florida are still fighting to keep dispensaries from popping up in their communities. Pasco and Manatee Counties have both requested bans on the drug in their communities, according to Sunshine State News, while Panama City Beach has suggested putting an all-out ban on growing, cultivation and dispensing for at least eight months while city and county officials study the plant and watch how it affects communities in other areas of Florida. Hillsborough County has already instituted a ban on medical marijuana, which will be in place until April.
“I suggest that we consider a moratorium on this until (the) state settles down on what their (laws) will be and the county does the same so we don’t do something and have to undo it three or four times,” Panama City Beach Councilman John Reichard said during a City Council meeting in early December.