Client’s Advisory
Number 1

Amendment 2 amends the state constitution so that qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation may legally possess and obtain medical cannabis provided by state licensed dispensaries.

This advisory provides our clients with some definitive answers to general questions that you may have about how medical marijuana would work in Florida:

Who could use medical marijuana?

A person with a doctor’s certificate stating that the patient qualifies for medical marijuana. The Florida Department of Health would issue an identification card to be shown at purchase. The card would let law enforcement know the patient can possess amounts set by law.

What medical conditions would qualify?

Specific diseases or other “debilitating” conditions for which the doctor thinks benefits of use would outweigh risk. Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease are all specified.

When could a patient start legally using marijuana?

The effective date of the amendment is Jan. 6. After that date, the Department of Health must implement regulations within six months and begin issuing identification cards within nine months. If the department fails to issue cards within nine months, the doctor’s certification will serve as identification.

Why is that important in Florida?

In states that have passed rules providing for medical marijuana, those venues where the legislature has opposed the will of the voters have seen enactment of the measure stalled purposely and by design. In Florida, however, the amendment is self enacting if the legislature, which has resisted the initiative, fails to act.

How much marijuana could a patient possess?

That will be determined by the Department of Health, based on what is “reasonably presumed to be an adequate supply.” Under the amendment, patients who think they need more could appeal. Marijuana, oil, tinctures and cannabis-laced food products would be allowed.

How would a patient fill a prescription?

There will be no prescriptions because marijuana is not an FDA-approved medicine with controlled doses. It would be more like an over-the-counter herb. Certifying doctors must be licensed in Florida and perform a physical exam and “full assessment of a patient’s history,” but the amendment does not require doctors and patients to have an ongoing relationship.

Where would medical marijuana be sold?

Only at state-licensed dispensaries called “Medical Treatment Centers.” Growers would also be licensed as treatment centers. The Department of Health would issue rules about how dispensaries would be monitored. Growing your own pot would remain illegal, as it is under current law.

What if the Department of Health writes regulations so restrictive that usage is effectively banned?

The department must issue “timely” and “reasonable” rules that “ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients.” If the regulations are too restrictive, any Florida citizen could sue to enforce constitutional intent.

This is happening in other states where restrictive licenses, high fees and unfair regulations have been subjected to judicial review. The clients of FCC420.com would then engage the law offices of Norm Kent and Russell Cormican to pursue legal challenges to unjust rules.

Can caregivers possess marijuana?

Yes. A person over 21 can buy and handle the marijuana on behalf of up to five patients. Caregivers would have an identification card issued by the state.

How old must a patient be?

The amendment does not set age limits. In other states, use by minors requires parental consent, as with traditional medicinal treatments.

Would insurance cover it?

That would be up to the insurer. The amendment does not require coverage. Medicare does not cover nonprescription drugs and supplements.

What about using it at work or in schools?

Schools and employers would be free to prohibit on-site use. The amendment does not prohibit employers from requiring drug tests or imposing sanctions for positive results.

Would information on identification cards be public?

No. The Department of Health must keep records confidential, even from employers or family members. But the information could be disclosed for “valid medical or law enforcement purposes.”

Could the Legislature set up its own system to regulate medical marijuana?

Yes, but it could not contradict the amendment. For example, the Legislature could not make dispensaries illegal. However, it could empower and permit home cultivation, which is now banned by statute. While FCC420.com acts solely as a consultant, we believe cultivation for limited personal use is an eventual probability.

Could the Florida Supreme Court ruling on the ballot language be appealed?

Not successfully. Federal courts leave interpretation of state constitutions to state courts.

Could pot-smoking in public be regulated just as cigarette smoking is regulated?

Yes. Calling it medicine does not confer the right to use pot anywhere.

What about DUI?

Driving under the influence of “medical” marijuana would still be illegal, as with alcohol.

Can I get a permit now?

No, you have to wait for the rules to be enacted after the amendment passes.

What is the best way to position myself to become a treatment center?

By engaging FCC420.com, we will give you exclusive access to our proprietary web site, which will post ongoing advisories to the likely rules and regulations, based on our knowledge and experience culled from other jurisdictions.

As the chairman of the Board of Directors of NORML, Norm Kent has become influential and familiar with the enactment of dispensary laws in 20 states.

He has lectured and testified in Colorado, Washington, Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C. , appeared on national television as an expert on cannabis laws, and advised various legislators on reasonable guidelines for such programs.

He pioneered the medical necessity defense in Florida and paved the way for it to be used elsewhere, when, in 1987, he won an acquittal on a cultivation charge for Elvy Mussika , based on her debilitating medical condition. She now gets her prescription cannabis from the DEA quarterly.

Retaining FCC420.com as your consultant will give you a front door opportunity to access the Florida laws, rules, and regulations as they emerge. Our advisories will keep you abreast of what other states have done and what Florida is doing.