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Florida Faces Obstacles, Uncertainty with Medical Marijuana Legalization

December 26, 2016 - 8:45am

Medical marijuana supporters and activists are looking ahead to 2017 when medical pot will be expanded in Florida, but the full legalization and implementation of the drug may still be months away. 

Patients who qualify for the drug should essentially be able to begin receiving their marijuana medication next week. 

The future of medical pot greatly expanded last month when 71 percent of voters approved Amendment 2. 

The amendment says anyone who has one of the debilitating illnesses listed in the amendment language, like HIV and cancer, can begin receiving medical pot January 3. 

While the amendment language might seem straightforward, the state legislature and the Florida Department of Health still have six months to revise the current dispensing rules and have up to nine months to implement those rules, which could throw a wrench into the state's newest prescription drug. 

State lawmakers ruled to allow non-smokable, low THC dosages of medical marijuana during the 2014 legislative session -- a provision which was expanded earlier this year to allow patients to receive higher doses of the drug. 

Distribution of the drug began during the summer. Seven dispensaries are currently authorized to dole out the drug in Florida. 

Medical marijuana is currently available in oils, drops, tinctures and sprays which cost around $30 to $300 for a 45-day supply. 

The road to dispensing medical marijuana is already full of roadblocks, particularly from cities and local governments trying to fight off the medical pot business. 

Cities and counties around the state have expressed fears over medical pot shops popping up in commercial zones and school zones, though it is uncertain just how many dispensaries will be built statewide. 

Pasco and Manatee Counties have both said they want bans on the drug and other counties, like Hillsborough, already have a ban in place until April. 

Local governments are also cracking down on the drug. Panama City Beach officials have said they want an all-out ban of growing, cultivation and dispensing of the drug for eight months while city and county staff studied the activities. 

Local officials said the so-called "moratorium" on medical marijuana activities would give local and state lawmakers the chance to sort out what the future of medical marijuana would look like in Florida. 

"I suggest that we consider a moratorium on this until (the) state settles down on what their (laws) will be and the county does the same so we don't do something and have to undo it three or four times," Panama City Beach Councilman John Reichard told the News-Herald. 

On top of local pushback, supporters of the drug are worried about federal pushback. President Barack Obama's administration has deferred the legality of the drug to the states but it is uncertain whether President-elect Donald Trump's administration would do the same. 

From a business perspective, is predicted to be incredibly lucrative for the Sunshine State. A New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research industry report found Florida will make a whopping $1.6 billion in medical marijuana sales within the next three years. 

Florida's medical marijuana industry will grow by 140 percent by 2020. 

"Florida has the potential to be one of the largest medical markets in the country,"  said New Frontier Data Founder and CEO Giadha DeCarcer. "The state is home to the nation's largest percentage of people 65 and older, a demographic for whom chronic pain and catastrophic illnesses are commonplace and expensive to treat. Amendment 2 gives this large patient pool access to legal cannabis as an alternative therapy to their diverse medical needs."

Florida's legislative session begins in March. 



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.



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If you're marijuana comes from Mexico you have a shitty drug dealer almost all marijuana now comes local grown in the good old us of a thanks Colorado California Oregon Washington for leading the way



The state must throw out its current regulatory system and start over. Goal number one should be to put patients first and stop trying to protect the monopoly they handed to 6 nursery owners two years ago.

"While the amendment language might seem straightforward, the state legislature and the Florida Department of Health still have six months to revise the current dispensing rules and have up to nine months to implement those rules,",,,,,in other words expect the anti-MJ asshat legislators to F-up everything.

Come Jan 1 there is no state court that will convict you if you have any medical need. Even before that our Florida constitution makes it legal for anyone to procure, use any drug they think fit for their needs....... The Fl SC said so twice on pot dismissing the charges and telling prosecutors to not bring another case back over 15 yrs ago .......... Now Pot specifically made legal it is dumb to even arrest them as a waste of time, money.. So I'll procure my own until it is available as our Florida Constitution says.

Tax market or black market. Governments while well-intentioned currently support the black market in the United States. Unintended consequences are the carnage below the boarder. Government joint ventures with Purdue Pharmaceuticals kill hundreds of thousands worldwide each year. As long as governments put up roadblocks to demands of the voters lunacy will continue.

I think the words "dereliction of duty" are applicable here. The concept and practice of administering "medical marijuana" on the state level is not some new idea that fell out of the sky just last month. It was first approved and implemented in California, in 1996, about twenty (20) years ago. Get with the program, or get out of the way.

We fought to get it passed; we'll fight to get it implemented. Heck, if we have to we'll elect Morgan as gov to get it implemented.

Mr. Reichard is the perfect example of why government works slowly. Rather than taking initiative and LEADING, he'd prefer to take the old favorite stand-by, 'wait and see' what the other guys do! Especially when people's health is depending on politicos, now is NOT the time to follow Reichard in his 'wait and see' game! SHAME on him!

I wish you'd send that to his local newspaper as an op-ed -

If the asinine federal government had decided that - instead of being ranked up there with heroin - they would simply decriminalize pot -life would be simpler and much more sane. Am surprised that our doobee smoking, coke tooting prez didn't do that with one of his executive orders. In one fell swoop marijuana would have become worthless. It would have put an end to the carnage on the SW border. If the cartels couldn't sell it, they wouldn't bring it in. Does not seem like they have had much problem getting it in. And make no mistake - pot is their bread and butter. If you could grow some pot in the garden along with tomatoes, eggplants and squash, how much would you grow? A dozen plants? What would you do with it but smoke a little and give away the rest? Even if you sold it, what would you get? $10? Not like you would grow an acre of it. For what? We could have fired about half of all police officers since pot arrests are their bread and butter. Jails would not be overflowing with harmless people. A bunch of scumbag lawyers would take a pay cut. But, like the numbers game (now the lottery) that led to prison for so may blacks, the state now sees the money. And they want in. So, just like the pill mills, anyone with a headache or back spasm - real or imagined or just made up - doctors will pop up like mushrooms in a cowfield after a rain to dispense pot prescriptions. And once you have your prescription and your legally purchased pot container, you can keep it filled with pot from anywhere. What great sport. At least it will be the end of pot arrests. If the government gets involved, the situation will be fornicated skyward. Every time.

Sadly I also had hopes Pres Obama would use his mighty pen to accomplish this. After having done a little research it seems to my payments eyes that if Pres Obama legalized it we are in violating several hundred treaties. As much as I would agree it would finally put one win in the Prez obama win column .. I'm not sure if even President elect trump mighty negotiation skills are up to the headache all those renegotiated treaties might cause a melt down. Basically Ameica has painted itself in a corner on the POT issue we the PEOPLE want access to marijuana and our idiot federal leaders have through treaty had marijuana outlaws almost world wide. Now the federal g o governments stuck honoring the treaties while the people want out

Just like u said law enforcement bread and butter. To big to fail at this point and the trickle down effect would b far greater than just a few law enforcmemt agencies cutting jobs. It will effect gun manufacturers, the people that make uniforms, that stamp out the badges, automobile manufacturers make diffrent vehicles. Who will buy all those decommisioned military personnel vehicles. Amd yes military would loose jobs to. People that sew the buttons on uniforms. The effects could possibly spiral us into another financial meltdown. Hundreds of thousands of people potentially loosing there jobs overnight. Now maybe the other drug enforcment substances might possibly hold them but i doubt it for that reason i dont think there will ever be big drug war reforms. Hopefully they can at least give us this one (cannabis) which in my eyes isnt even a drug.

Sure it would be that simple if the president didn't have to bypass the mostly republican and anti-marijuana Congress. 2/3 vote. We learned this in elementary school

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