Since Florida voters demanded medical marijuana become available to a larger number of patients, lawmakers have been back and forth about how to handle the regulation of the industry. Unfortunately, the legislature ran out of time to pass a medical marijuana bill to govern the industry before the session ended on May 8th, and they are unlikely to return for an extra session just for medical cannabis. Instead, it seems that for now the Florida Department of Health will be the ones to determine all the rules and regulations surrounding the growing industry.
“I don’t see the department doing anything bold. My sense is they are going to preserve the status quo until such time as the Legislature acts. I support the department’s desire to remove any legal cloud over people’s ability to receive this medicine pursuant to the current provisions that are in place,” Bradley, a former prosecutor, said. “We need to do more than that, though. And that’s the Legislature’s job.”
Amendment 2 allows until July 3rd for regulations to be put in place – and since there isn’t much time, the Department of Health is looking to shorten the process for adopting new rules. While normally there would be a chance for public comment, disputes and revisions to the new rules, they will instead give a 15 day notice before adopting any new regulations, including a three day public comment period. However, there is currently no direction for disputing and appealing any decisions made by the DOH, which could be a problem down the road.
Chances are – in order to get things moving as quickly as possible – they are unlikely to change much about the structure that they put in place for the Charlotte’s Web law passed in 2014. This will possibly expand on the number of nurseries who are awarded licenses, but will probably not change the way they determine who can get a license – continuing the monopoly on medical cannabis which is a considerable concern to many. It also seems likely that things such as the 90 day doctor-patient relationship requirement is going to stay in place until further notice, which is unfortunate for patients.
“The Legislature is going to be in Tallahassee no later than around 100 days from now, and possibly earlier if the governor vetoes all or a portion of the budget,” Bradley said. “There are opportunities for the Legislature to deal with medical marijuana.”
Right now, it is too soon to say for sure what the Department of Health is going to do when it comes down to it – chances are that they won’t make any considerable changes to the current systems in place, but rather expand on them. Eventually, lawmakers will get another chance to write and pass a medical marijuana bill that will rework things to be much more efficient, but in the meantime at least the Department of Health will ensure medical marijuana becomes available to patients in the time specified by the amendment voters passed last November.