Florida voters have passed Amendment 2, setting the stage for medical marijuana within the sunshine state. While a similar state constitutional amendment narrowly failed to reach 60% support in 2014, in 2016 Florida voters approved the medical marijuana initiative by an overwhelming 71.29%.

In our previous articles on Amendment 2, we discussed what you should know before voting on Amendment 2 (hope that helped!) and what businesses should be doing now to prepare to participate in the Florida medical marijuana industry. In this article, we tackle what the process of implementing Amendment 2 will look like. 

As always, when discussing medical marijuana in Florida or in any state for that matter, it is important to note that Cannabis is still a schedule one drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Yes, Cannabis is still in fact illegal under federal law. If fact, the only reason any state has been able to to establish and maintain a medical marijuana or adult use system is reliance upon a Department of Justice guidance memorandum known as the “Cole Memo”. Such guidance can be withdrawn at any time by the Department of Justice. With a new incoming presidential administration, the Cole Memo could be withdrawn overnight. That will be a topic of another article. 

However, for now we remain optimistic that Cannabis reform is here to stay based on the multiple states approving adult use marijuana and medical marijuana initiatives in 2016. With that in mind, here is what you need to know about the implementation of Florida’s amendment 2:  

When does Amendment 2 take effect?

Under the Florida statutes, constitutional amendments that do not contain a specific effective date become effective the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the election, which in this case is January 3, 2017. 

That date is notable because Amendment 2 provides the Florida Department of Health to finalize is medical marijuana regulations within six months of the effective date, which will be no later than July, 3, 2017. The promulgation of these regulations will be critical for both marijuana businesses and patients alike. For example, regulations will dictate how dispensary and grow licenses are issued. Under Amendment 2, the Department of Health has the authority to set the applicable possession limits “based on the best evidence available.”

We have advised our clients to watch this process closely. In a previous article, we discussed the broad authority granted to the Florida Department of Health under Amendment 2. 

When will medical marijuana treatment be available?

Amendment 2 specifically requires that the Florida Department of Health issue patient identification cards and registration of medical marijuana treatment centers no later than nine months of the Amendment’s effective date, which will be no later than October 3, 2017. 

Yet, please note that these projected start dates assume there there will be no significant challenges to the implementation of Florida Amendment 2. Given the track record of the implementation of the Charlotte’s Web and the Right to Try laws, some challenges should be anticipated. However, using the lessons from the past Amendment 2 contains explicit language providing a private right of action to challenge any State delay tactics. 

For more information regarding Florida’s Amendment 2 and medical marijuana, contact Blake M. Trueblood at info@truebloodlawgroup.com or call (954) 302-8610 for a consultation.

This information has been prepared by the Trueblood Law Group, P.A. for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.