Back in November, Florida voted to legalize medical cannabis by an overwhelming margin, with 72 percent in favor of expansive legislation.
While residents have waited patiently for the state Legislature to create regulations, most advocates will certainly be disappointed with the first inklings of the planned medical system.
On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues unveiled Florida’s first medical marijuana regulations, and the proposed bill is even more restrictive than anyone could have imagined. The law would prohibit people from smoking cannabis or consuming in the form of edibles. On top of that, vaporizing would only be allowed in cases involving terminally ill patients.
Rodrigues’ 61-page bill would also require patients to submit their state driver’s license along with a second form of ID. If someone taking medical marijuana is charged with any drug offense, the state has the right to revoke their license, even if they aren’t convicted.
Advocates are already arguing that the measure would set Florida’s already limited system back even further. Prior to the approval of the new medical marijuana program, doctors were allowed to administer low-THC, high-CBD extracts.
By banning smoking, vaping, and the ingestion of medical cannabis, supporters are worried that the bill would leave no legal way for patients to consume their medication. For children and elderly people not able to administer cannabis to themselves, their caregivers would be forced to undergo strict background checks and training courses.
The bill also comes equipped with a mandated “education campaign,” which would address the "short-term and long-term health effects of cannabis and marijuana use, particularly on minors and young adults,” and would create an impaired-driving education campaign.
Infuriatingly, prescribing opiate painkillers requires no registration process for patients or caregivers. The state itself is considered by many to be “America’s painkiller capital”. Although cannabis has arisen as a viable solution to the opioid epidemic, Florida’s strict medical marijuana program will likely keep this vastly healthier alternative in the shadows—at least for now.