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The Future of Marijuana in Florida is Unclear

In November 2016, Florida overwhelmingly voted to legalize medical marijuana throughout the state. However, that same month the country elected a self-proclaimed “law and order” president who appointed an Attorney General that vows to uphold the federal ban on marijuana even though states have legalized it for medical or recreational use.Because of this, the future of marijuana in our state is unclear, and lawmakers are taking a long time to establish how medical marijuana will be regulated and distributed. While some parts of Florida legalized low-grade cannabis in 2014 for specific medical conditions, it is very limiting in terms of who can access it and what strength the cannabis can be.For Floridians who truly need relief and haven’t been able to access medical marijuana yet, this is a real shame.

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Naturally, there are a lot of questions that come with the legalization of medical marijuana. Which patients will have access to it? What disorders or symptoms should be eligible? What forms of marijuana (edibles, etc.) should be distributed? How much should the state’s medical marijuana program expand?Many other states have only recently legalized recreational or medical marijuana themselves, so it’s hard to look outside the state for answers and know what is best for Floridians. In fact, critics of the current bills in Florida Congress – including SB406 or HB1397 – argue that the people behind the laws don’t have Floridian’s best intentions in mind.The Miami Herald specifically called out an anti-drug group, Drug Free Florida, for making the bill more restrictive than it needs to be. HB1397 and SB406 contain at least 20 restrictions that were suggested by Drug Free Florida and its lobbying group, Save Our Society From Drugs. Some of the suggestions include:

  • Patients would need to have a three-month relationship with their doctors before obtaining a prescription
  • Two physicians would be required for minors to obtain a prescription
  • Patients with chronic pain would likely not be able to get a prescription
  • A ban on edible marijuana
  • A ban on smoking marijuana

All of these suggestions have been added into one or both of the bills that are looking to be passed in Florida.While the lawmakers behind the bill say that they have met with over 40 different organizations to help write the bill, there are still questions as to who is the driving force behind the legislation. Some of the restrictions have led to big debates among lawmakers, and time is ticking for bills to be passed to the governor. It is likely that none of the bills will move forward before the congress shuts down this session.The debate rages on, and over all of it that the looming shadow of the new administration and Attorney General. No matter what Florida lawmakers decide, it might not be much longer before federal marijuana laws are enforced more heavily by law enforcement.Even beyond this, the recent legalization of medical marijuana will not help you if you are charged with simple possession. Recreational, edible, and smoking marijuana are all still prohibited by Florida law. If you face charges, reach out to a Florida criminal defense lawyer who will work to help get your charges dropped.About the Author:Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he's done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.

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