MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA MADE MORE ACCESSIBLE

With the commencement of voting for the next American president, the residents in the state of Florida made a smart choice by voting yes to medical marijuana.

On November 8, 2016, Florida voters approved Amendment 2 with an overwhelming 71.3% support making Florida the 26th state with an effective medical marijuana law. With the amendment 2, the Department of Health will have to regulate medical marijuana treatment centers, which would cultivate and dispense cannabis to qualifying patients.

According to the amendment, these may include those diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition and have a physician’s certification and a valid identification card. This replaces the previous law which limited access to law-THC cannabis for limited groups of patients.

The campaign was pushed and supported by United for Care with support from the Morgan Firm and the Florida Democratic (top donors) allowing Party People United for medical marijuana to raise almost double what the opposition campaign did.

Florida’s medical marijuana law before amendment

In 2014, Florida had passed a flawed Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act that allowed a limited group if patients access to medical marijuana that was law in THC (less than 0.8%) and high in CBD. In addition, this marijuana was not supposed to be smoked and was only intended for qualified patients.

In 2014, United for Care unsuccessfully placed a similar initiative, named Amendment 2, on November 4, 2014, ballot in Florida, which was defeated with only 57.62% majority voting in favor. According to the Florida’s constitution, a 60% supermajority vote is required for an amendment to pass.

Following the defeat of 2014’s Amendment 2, United for Care planned another re-run for 2016 with a new initiative of clarifying issues about which some opponents of Amendment 2 were concerned in 2014.

Among the clarifications was requirements for parental consent for the use of medical marijuana by minors and also further defined what is meant by “debilitating” illnesses that would qualify for marijuana as a treatment option. In addition, it also addresses concerns regarding caregivers by making it clear that doctors would not be immune from malpractice claims for negligent prescribing of marijuana and by limiting how many patients a caregiver can treat with marijuana.

These new clarifications won the amendment more support and as of November 1, 2016, the support campaign received about twice as much money as the opposition campaign with a total of $6,112,467.35 in contributions for the 2016 election.

Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2 (2016)

The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Amendment 2, took place on November 8, 2016, ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment with an aim to legalizing medical marijuana for individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician. This initiative was approved by a yes vote from the residents of Florida.

This sets a task for the Department of Health to set regulations for the issuance of identification cards, qualifications and standards of care givers and registration of medical marijuana treatment centers. This amendment won with a 71.31% support thanks to MPP’s assistance with the campaign’s fundraising and public education efforts, which helped ensure that despite the opposition spending millions on misleading ads, people still supported compassion.

United for Care listed several arguments to support its move to legalize among which was studies that showed that many patients suffering with HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, cancer and chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and other debilitating illnesses find that marijuana provides relief from their symptoms. Another concerned was with the fact that the available prescription drugs are proving to have far more serious side effects as compared to medical marijuana.

Diseases now treatable with medical marijuana in Florida

The legal language of Amendment 2 specifies that medical marijuana is to be provided to patients with particular debilitating illnesses and among these are: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Amendment 2 also allows licensed physicians to certify patients for medical marijuana use after diagnosing them with other debilitating medical conditions in the same class as those mentioned above. However, this does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Conclusion

After a long fight to victory, medical marijuana has finally been made legal in the state of Florida. The new amendment 2 allows more unlimited access to medical marijuana hence providing extended relief to the patients.

Over the years, different states in the US have come to realize the medical benefits of this long stigmatized plant and have come to appreciate it. Unfortunately, marijuana still remains illegal under the Federal law and some police departments have said that they will continue to arrest everyone in possession of illegal marijuana, so caution should be exercised.

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