On June 9, 2017, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A (SB 8A), the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, designed to establish regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2, which allows the sale of medical cannabis in the state of Florida.
Political Banana Peel
In what Commissioner Peter Weldon called a “political banana peel thrown under our feet,” the law makes county and municipal governments choose. Either they must treat medical marijuana dispensaries exactly the same way they treat pharmacies or they must ban them altogether.
Dispensaries Banned – For Now
On Monday, July 24, the Commission voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance banning medical cannabis dispensaries from the City of Winter Park. Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel cast the dissenting vote.
Medical Marijuana Supporters Seek to Overturn Law
Meanwhile, proponents of medical marijuana dispensaries are asking the courts to overturn the state law. If they are successful, adoption of the City ordinance automatically establishes a one-year moratorium, which would give the City time to understand the impact of the court ruling and to devise an alternative ordinance that would be in full compliance.
Editor’s Note: Readers wishing to comment on this latest development should scroll to the end of the full story and click the Comment link there.
Will of the Voters – Up In Smoke?
State Rules Restrict Medical Marijuana in FL Cities
July 26, 2017 / by Anne Mooney
At a special work session July 25, the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board moved to request the Commission enact an ordinance “to prohibit medical marijuana treatment center dispensing facilities within the boundaries of the city . . . .”
If the Commission passes it, this ordinance will repeal and replace a 2014 ordinance, No. 2981-14, which would have permitted dispensaries of non-euphoric medical cannabis in limited industrial and warehouse districts within the city.
Winter Park is among 88 municipalities and four counties (Osceola, Sumpter, Hernando and Columbia) considering prohibitions, moratoriums or other restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries.
Voters Want Medical Cannabis
On the November 8, 2016, ballot, Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, with a decisive 71.3 percent of the vote. The measure went into effect January 3, 2017. The state legislature, however, neglected to establish the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2 during their regular session.
House Speaker Wants to Make the Rules
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, however, objected to ceding power for making rules for implementation to the Florida Department of Health and called for a special legislative session to address medical marijuana legislation. “To just leave it to bureaucrats sitting over at the Department of Health,” he said, “I think would be a gross injustice.”
Gov. Scott: ‘Okay, Make the Rules’
On June 2, Governor Rick Scott called for a special session June 7 through June 9. He issued a statement, “Medical marijuana was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters in 2016, and I believe that it is the role of the Florida Legislature to determine how to best implement this approved constitutional amendment. I am glad that both the Florida Senate and House are moving toward crafting legislation to help patients, and I have added medical marijuana to the call for special session.”
Senate Writes the Rules . . .
On June 9, 2017, the Florida State Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A (SB 8A), the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, designed to establish regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2.
SB 8A defined the medical conditions that qualified a patient for medical marijuana. It placed a cap on the number of retail dispensaries and medical marijuana treatment centers until April 1, 2020. It banned smoking medical marijuana. It banned doctors with a financial interest in marijuana growing or testing facilities from prescribing marijuana. It levied no tax on medical marijuana.
Locals Implement the Rules . . .or Not
The law also gave local county and municipal governments a choice. Either they can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries exactly the same way they regulate pharmacies . . . or they can ban them.
In short, the only way to regulate them is to ban them completely.
Commission to Decide at July 24 Meeting.