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Florida

  • by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors December 15, 2018

    home cultivationWriting from Key West last week, where I addressed the 35thannual legal conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, I was fishing not only for Blue Marlin, but justice.

    Two years ago, Florida citizens voted for and passed a constitutional amendment allowing our residents to use marijuana medicinally.

    The law passed overwhelmingly, with nearly 72 percent of the vote. No recount was required.  In this hotly contested and partisan state, no candidate running for statewide office won with that much of a majority. Candidate “Cannabis” garnered more votes than every Tom, Dick, and Sally running for office.

    Two years later though, there are few, if any, dispensaries on your corner. Two years later, the city commissions are still passing moratoriums on them. They are negligently joined at the hip by irresponsible legislators failing to fulfill their legal duties. The will of the electorate is inexcusably and unjustifiably being denied.

    Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has honorably stated that the legislature has a duty and obligation to implement a regulatory scheme, which carries out the will of the people.

    While DeSantis also said he does not support legalization, he has committed himself publicly to seeing Florida citizens be allowed access to medical marijuana.

    The incoming governor can take the first step by directing his new Attorney General to stop fighting a legal battle in the courts designed to prevent actual cannabis, the flowered plant, to be sold at dispensaries. Under the guidelines authored by Florida’s legislature, you can only buy cannabis oil and edibles. Folks, this “no smoke” is a joke.

    Let’s be real. When you, me and nearly 72 percent of all voters cast your ballots to make medical marijuana available, we meant the flowered plant, not a stool sample. You voted to enact a constitutional amendment, which provided for medical marijuana to be reasonably accessible to citizens of our state. You are entitled to make your vote matter.

    Unfortunately, the state legislature failed to enact your directive. It fraudulently fashioned rules forbidding dispensary owners from selling actual cannabis. Instead of partnering with a new industry wisely, it has created obstacles foolishly.

    The licensees empowered to open dispensaries have paid the state millions of dollars to cultivate cannabis lawfully. They have purchased large tracts of land to initiate outdoor grows. They have acquired enormous warehouse bays to produce high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana. They are getting screwed, too. They can’t sell it and we can’t buy it.

    We are all tired of having to buy cannabis illegally on street corners. We are sick of watching our friends stupidly go to jail for purchasing a product we are now allowing the state to collect money from. Let’s get our act together. Let’s demand a change.

    Marijuana initiatives are passing all over the country. States are proactively enacting them, not foolishly postponing them. Seven more states joined the fold in November.

    In Florida, attorney John Morgan, out of Orlando, has led the battle to medicalize marijuana. With groups like the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, People United for Medical Marijuana and Regulate Florida also championing this cause, the citizenry of our state has spoken powerfully for medical pot.

    It is sheer foolishness and remarkable stupidity for politicians to oppose what is clearly a green wave sweeping across America.  Polling now suggests 65 percent of all Americans want pot legalized. Across America, 32 states have now decriminalized, medicalized, or legalized pot.

    It has taken nearly half a century, but now more than half of America is on our side. We have come a long way. If you stand your ground though, and there abide, the world will eventually come around to you.

    Marijuana use never should have been criminalized, and cannabis consumers never should have become criminals. Pot always was and still is a simple herb with medicinal uses and recreational qualities. It was never an evil which would end the world. To fulfill their own political agendas, our leaders lied to us. Surprise.

    The war against pot has been a waste of national resources, destroying lives, jailing good people, and diluting valuable law enforcement resources. It has been almost 50 years since the one-time governor of Pennsylvania, Raymond Schaefer, a Republican, released a report recommending that the federal government decriminalize the personal use of marijuana.

    Today, even the former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, another Republican, works in the cannabis industry marketing legal marijuana for private entrepreneurs.

    In the United States Congress, we must once and for all end the legal farce that permits cannabis to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug with “no accepted medical uses.” This regulation is why 18-year-old kids in 18 states across this country are still having to post bail for using pot.

    Reasonable access to medical marijuana is now the law of our state, and if our city commissioners and state legislators don’t enact ordinances to provide for it promptly, they are the ones who should be held accountable at the ballot box.

    The failure of our state to make medical cannabis easily accessible in 2018 has inspired a new initiative for 2020. The next ballot amendment will ask you to support statewide legalization. Until then, we have a right to mandate that the constitutional amendment of 2016 be implemented fairly.

    If you cannot acquire medicinal pot in our state today, the only ones who belong in jail are the legislators who are failing to carry out your directives, entered at voting booths across this state two years ago. Lock them up, not you.

    As for you, there is no doubt. If you are a patient, you should be able to go into a dispensary and acquire cannabis lawfully. We as a people have decreed it as our legal right.

    Fighting for legal marijuana has always been a civil rights cause, more now than ever. Your right. Your body. Your choice.  No one can or should be allowed to stand in your way. Stand up and let your voice and votes be heard from South Florida to Tallahassee.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 25, 2018

    A Florida Circuit Court judge ruled today that a legislatively enacted ban on the smoking of medical cannabis in private by qualified patients is unconstitutional.

    Lawmakers in 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A — which sought to amend provisions in Amendment 2, a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, SB 8A prohibited the possession of marijuana “in a form for smoking” and barred the use of herbal cannabis except in instances where it is contained “in a sealed tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016.

    Backers of Amendment 2, including the group Florida for Care and longtime medical activist Cathy Jordan, challenged the ‘no smoking’ ban — arguing that lawmakers improperly sought to overrule the will of the electorate. Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers today ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

    “Section 381.986, Florida Statutes (2017) unconstitutionally restricts rights that are protected in the Constitution, and so the statutory prohibition against the use of smokeable marijuana permitted by [a] qualifying patient is declared invalid and unenforceable,” the judge ruled. “Qualifying patients have the right to use the form of medical marijuana for [the] treatment of their debilitating medical condition as recommended by their certified physicians, including the use of smokable marijuana in private places.”

    NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or restrict patients’ access to whole plant herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms do not benefit from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects.

    “This ruling is a victory for Florida voters and, in particular, Florida’s patient community,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “These legislatively enacted restrictions arbitrarily sought to limit patients’ choices in a manner that violated the spirit of the law, and cynically sought to deny patients the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.”

    The Court’s opinion in the case: People United for Medical Marijuana et al v. Florida department of Health et al., appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 6, 2017

    cannabis_pillsRepresentatives of Florida for Care filed litigation today challenging a statewide ban on medical cannabis smoking. The suit was expected after lawmakers approved legislation (SB 8A) in June amending Amendment 2 — a voter initiated constitutional amendment permitting the use and distribution of medical cannabis. Seventy-one percent of voters approved the amendment in November.

    Senate Bill 8A amends the definition of medical cannabis in a manner that prohibits “marijuana in a form for smoking” and that bars the personal possession of herbal cannabis flowers, except in instances where they are contained “in a sealed, tamper-proof receptacle for vaping.” The Florida for Care suit argues that these changes inconsistent with the constitutional definition of marijuana, as passed by voters, and therefore should not be implemented.

    The lawsuit argues, “Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream. … By redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of ‘a licensed Florida physician’ and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process.”

    Under the revised law, patients diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis — or who suffer from chronic pain related to any of these diseases — are eligible to receive a 70-day supply of cannabis-infused oils or edible products from a limited number of state-licensed dispensing facilities.

    NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or prohibit patients’ access to whole-plant cannabis in lieu of cannabis-derived extracts or pills. Cannabis inhalation is not associated with increased instances of lung cancer, COPD, or other tobacco-related adverse effects on pulmonary function. Inhaled cannabis is fast acting and permits patients to accurately self-regulate their dose. By contrast, non-herbal forms of cannabis possess delayed onset and their effects can often be far less predictable than those of herbal cannabis. Many patients seeking rapid relief of symptoms do not benefit from pills, tinctures, or edibles, and such restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices.

    If the court invalidates SB 8A, the task of writing the rules for implementing the initiative — which must be operational by October — will fall to the Florida Department of Health.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate November 8, 2016

    According to the Associated Press, voters in Florida approved Amendment 2, an expansive medical marijuana law. The AP’s is reporting a final vote count of 71 percent to 29 percent. The Amendment required over 60 percent of the vote to become law.

    “The overwhelming majority of Floridians, like voters nationwide, believe that patients ought to have the legal option to choose marijuana therapy as an alternative to conventional, and often dangerous, pharmaceuticals,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “With this historic vote, we can expect to see similar programs acknowledging the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis begin to take hold in the southeastern region of the United States.”

    Florida Medical Marijuana

    Amendment 2 amends the Florida state constitution so that qualified patients who possess a physician’s recommendation may legally possess and obtain medical cannabis provided by state licensed dispensaries. Under the law, a “debilitating medical condition” for which marijuana may be recommended includes is defined as “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, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” The home cultivation of cannabis is not permitted under the law.

    Existing Florida law restricted limited qualifying patients only to high CBD strains of cannabis, unless they were terminally ill.

    Department of Health regulators must begin issuing patient identification cards within nine months of the new law’s enactment. You can read the full text of Amendment 2 here.

    “With broad support across all demographics, voters in Florida approved Amendment 2 by a landslide,” said Erik Altieri, NORML’s new Executive Director. “These results are a victory, not just for common sense public policy, but for patients all across the state who will now have access to a safe, effective treatment for a number of debilitating ailments.”

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate November 4, 2016

    take_actionIn less than five days, nine states will be voting on marijuana related ballot proposals potentially doubling the number of states that allow the recreational use of marijuana and expanding the therapeutic benefits of marijuana use to millions of Americans. Here’s where these measures stand in the latest polls.

    Arizona: According to an October Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite poll, 50 percent of registered voters in Arizona favor Proposition 205 and 42 percent oppose it. The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act allows adults twenty-one years of age and older to possess and to privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of marijuana concentrate, and/or the harvest from up to six plants); it creates a system in which licensed businesses can produce and sell marijuana; establishes a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana; and provides local governments with the authority to regulate and limit marijuana businesses.

    AUMACalifornia: Arguably one of, if not the most important state this election to consider legalizing and regulating the adult use of marijuana is the golden state. Passage of the Proposition 64 would permit adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.”

    According to recent October polling by Survey USA, 54 percent of likely voters support Proposition 64 and the measure “now appears positioned to become law.” For more information on the ballot proposal, please visit the AUMA website.

    Florida: Voters in Florida are getting their second chance at passing an expansive medical marijuana law this election day. In 2014, 58 percent of voters approved Amendment 2, however because state law requires a super-majority (60 percent of the vote) for constitutional amendments to pass, the amendment was narrowly rejected. It looks like this election will have different results though, with 71 percent of Floridians saying they will vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 2 according to an October poll by Saint Leo University. Passage of Amendment 2 would permit qualified patients to possess and obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities.

    Maine: Hoping to bring legal recreational marijuana use for adults to the east coast, Maine is another exciting state to watch in the upcoming election. If enacted by voters in November, Question 1 or the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would allow adults to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana (up to six mature plants and the entire yields of said plants) for their own personal use. The measure would also establish licensing for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. Retail sales of cannabis would be subject to a ten percent sales tax. Non-commercial transactions and/or retail sales involving medical cannabis would not be subject to taxation.

    Among likely voters, support for Question 1 leads by a margin of 50 percent to 41 percent, according to an October UNH Survey Center poll.

    cannabis_pillsMontana: Voters in Montana are also faced with an important marijuana related ballot decision this election day with Initiative 182. I-182 expands the state’s medical cannabis law by repealing the limit of three patients for each licensed provider, and by allowing providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical marijuana. I-182 repeals the requirement that physicians who provide certifications for 25 or more patients annually be referred to the board of medical examiners. I-182 removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities, and requires annual inspections by the state. However, the measure is presently trailing in the polls. According to an October poll, commissioned by Lee Newspapers, 44 percent of voters approve of the measure while 51 percent are against it.

    Nevada: Nevadans will also be facing the decision on whether or not to legalize the adult use and regulation of marijuana on Tuesday. Question 2, if passed, would permit adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce and/or six plants) for non-commercial purposes. The measure also regulates and taxes the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. It states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.” According to an October poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, voters favor the measure by a margin of 47 percent to 43 percent.

    Massachusetts voters appear poised to enact Question 4, which allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of their residences and up to 10 ounces of marijuana in an enclosed, locked space within their residences. A just-released Western New England University Polling Institute survey finds the measure leading 61 percent to 34 percent.

    Recent polling from Arkansas finds voters narrowly approving Issue 6 to regulate the use of medicinal marijuana by qualified patients, while no current polling is available regarding the passage of a similar measure in North Dakota.

    For a summary on all pending ballot proposals, as well as to see the latest videos from each of the campaigns, visit our Election 2016 page.

    Do you have election night plans? If you want to follow all of the marijuana ballot proposals being voted on check back in with us on our homepage Tuesday evening where we will be LIVE updating the results as they come in! We’ve teamed up with our friends over at cannabisradio.com to stream their live election night coverage as well and we hope you’ll join us!

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