- 12 Jun
Florida Health Department Propose Implementation of Medical Marijuana Amendment
In response to state legislature failing to address the issue of medical marijuana, The Florida Department of Health decided to move ahead on their own. The department issued a Notice of Regulation Development Procedure in order to show the public the specific process that agency will use to carry out the implementation of Amendment 2. The amendment, establishing an authority for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with specific conditions, was approved by a 71 percent vote in November. The amendment specified the conditions addressed, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS and MS, as well as a number of other conditions. The amendment also included the possibility of doctors prescribing marijuana for other conditions, if the “physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks.”
After the amendment was approved, the Florida legislature was expected to begin the process of implementing the new legislation. However, a disagreement emerged involving the specific number of retail outlets that would be allowed in the state, and an agreement was not found by the time the legislative session ended on May 8.
In response, the Department of Health issued their own guidelines on moving forward. The original amendment gave the department until July 3 to create the rules of implementation and Oct. 3 to put them into effect. In a typical administrative procedure, challenges and revisions could extend the timeline. However, the proposed guidelines put forth by the Department of Health stated that health officials would give the public 15 days notice before adopting a new rule, and allow the public three days to comment. These guidelines do away with the standard process of challenges and revisions, but also lack a specific way to contest or appeal new regulations.
The Florida Department of Health proposed the implementation process as the call grows for state lawmakers to address the medical marijuana issue specifically. There is bipartisan support within the state for calling a special session to deal with the implementation, an unlikely option unless Gov. Rick Scott vetoes a portion of the state budget which would force the Legislature to return anyway.
If the Florida Legislature does not return until the next session in Jan. 2018, then the Department of Health would move forward in planning and implementing their proposal, creating one of the largest medical marijuana markets of its kind within the United States.
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