Florida has become the first state in the southern part of the nation to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
On Tuesday, voters in the Sunshine State showed up at the polls like a pack of wild animals, ready to lend their support for the second coming of United for Care’s Amendment 2. The initiative, which was designed similar to one that failed back in 2014, passed with more than the required 60 percent of the votes.
Florida is now the 26th state in the U.S. to legalize in this manner.
“This was never about winning an election, although that's exactly what we did tonight. The election was a means to an end,” said attorney John Morgan, the lead organizer of the United for Care campaign. “The end was always, always always delivering compassion to those who could benefit, those desperate for the relief medical marijuana can bring.”
The new law will allow patients with 10 qualified conditions, including “cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis,” to participate in the program. It will also give those people with “other debilitating medical conditions” access to the herb as long as a “physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
Unfortunately, no home cultivation will be permitted.
The Florida Department of Health must have the regulations for the new industry hashed out by the summer of 2017. Then by October, the state is expected to begin issuing licenses for those interested in growing and selling weed.
As it stands, Florida has only a low-THC medical marijuana program for people suffering with cancer and seizure disorders. There is also a law on the books that gives terminally ill patients the right to use full strength marijuana under the “Right to Try Act.” It is not known exactly what is to become of the low-THC program now that the benefits of a comprehensive plan will soon be available.
However, full legalization could be next.
Drug policy reform expert Ethan Nadelmann believes Florida could soon be poised to press the voters with an initiative aimed at ending prohibition.
“The victory this time around proves that you can’t keep a good cause down,” he said. “In fact, I’d wager that more than half of all Floridians now support legalizing marijuana for all adults. It’s just a matter of time before that’s ripe for a new ballot initiative.”