In November, Florida voted by an overwhelming margin to legalize medical marijuana, becoming the first state in the southern part of the United States to do so. But unfortunately, thus far, Florida lawmakers and officials have pulled out all of the stops to prevent the voter-approved cannabis system from coming to fruition in the Sunshine State.
Earlier this week, commissioners from Broward County—the state’s second largest county—voted to postpone their decision on proposed medical marijuana ordinance. These regulations would effectively regulate dispensaries and grow operations, but they will now be put on hold for an additional two months.
County officials have decided to wait and see whether state lawmakers will approve a bill that would put the recently passed medical cannabis constitutional amendment into effect statewide, and these same officials delayed Broward County’s proposed ordinance until May 9 in a unanimous vote.
County commissioners have claimed that they are simply trying to avoid passing regulations that would contradict what Florida’s Legislature ends up approving, and by the time the next hearing rolls around, state lawmakers will likely have come to a decision on how to implement the medical cannabis system statewide.
Even if passed, the local ordinance would create extremely limited opportunities for the medical marijuana industry in Broward County, including restricting marijuana businesses to only three small areas of the county.
But Broward isn’t the only region pumping the brakes on the state's medical marijuana system. Officials from the neighboring county of Miami-Dade have recently stirred up controversy with their own anti-cannabis rhetoric.
Back in February, Miami commissioner Sally Heyman forewarned that medical marijuana would increase homelessness and crime in the city, among other pitfalls. Additionally, the recent regulations unveiled by Florida Rep. Ray Rodrigues look to be more restrictive than anyone could have possibly anticipated.
Considering that Miami-Dade County and Broward County are two of the liberal strongholds in a relatively conservative state, advocates have a valid reason to be concerned about their officials’ backtracking.
Unfortunately, it seems like we will have to wait yet a few more months before the legal gray area surrounding Florida’s medical marijuana amendment is clarified, leaving those in need of cannabis anxiously waiting on the sidelines.