Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Inside Florida’s Stifling Medical Marijuana Program

While it is legal for medical marijuana cardholders to purchase weed from dispensaries, growing a few marijuana plants at home for personal use remains a serious offense.

After a legislative sideshow full of compromise and negotiations, Florida Governor Rick Scott finally got the opportunity last week to put his signature on a bill that allows the implementation of the medical marijuana program that voters approved last November. But despite the initial language of Amendment 2, which was designed to establish a comprehensive program, state lawmakers have done everything in their power to ensure Florida’s stifling medical marijuana program comes off as limp as possible. For starters, the new law does not allow patients to smoke marijuana. It only permits herbal consumption through cannabis products, like edibles and oils.

However, this aspect of the law is expected to be challenged soon by Orlando Attorney John Morgan, one of the key players in the campaign that brought the issue of medical marijuana to the voters in the first place. Morgan says the original language of Amendment 2 was intended to give patients the freedom to smoke their medicine.

He plans to sue the state in an attempt to change the law.

“I don’t know why they would object to anyone on their death bed wanting to use what they wanted to relieve pain and suffering,” Morgan told the Associated Press. “If they were really concerned about smoking, why don’t they heavily tax cigarettes?”

As we have seen with similar laws, the no-smoking rule means there is also no home cultivation. So, while it is legal for medical marijuana cardholders to purchase weed from dispensaries, growing a few plants at home for personal use remains a serious offense.

This part of the law is also being challenged.

Last week, Tampa strip club owner Joe Redner, who suffers from Stage-4 lung cancer, said he plans to sue the state for the right to grow up to 20 cannabis plants. His argument is that patients should be permitted to cultivate cannabis because the state’s definition of medical marijuana includes “all parts of the plant.”

Another major downer with the program is that it provides absolutely no protection for patients that are part of the workforce. This means people using medical marijuana can still be refused employment and even terminated from a position for submitting a positive test for cannabis.

”If you get tested positive for THC in your system, you may lose your job and it’s not fair to the people that have voted to use this as medicine,” Thomas Quigley, a medical marijuana advocate, told Fox News 13. “You could take 10 or 12 Percocet in a day and show up to work the next day and nothing’s wrong, but if they consume a little bit of cannabis the night before and test positive, they could lose their job.”

On the bright side, patients can immediately begin consulting with their doctor about the use of medical marijuana as part of their treatment plan. However, physicians are required to go through an online training course before they can write recommendations.


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