Despite Success of Property for Cannabis Businesses in California, Florida is Reneging

Property for cannabis businesses in California is flourishing, just like other states who have passed similar legalization bills. The economy of these states is booming, but despite these facts, Florida is reneging on their new legislation, Amendment 2.

Over 70 percent of Floridian voters showed support for Amendment 2, its medical marijuana constitutional amendment back in November. Even though the public clearly supports and wants medical marijuana to be legal, the Florida Department of Health and lawmakers are trying to alter the law before it is even implemented.

Amendment 2’s language was very clear. It granted the Department of Health the right to register and regulate dispensaries, and it was left up to state physicians to deem patients qualified for medical marijuana.

Instead of working on the infrastructure for a new medical cannabis program, the Department of Health is trying to weave in an expanded medical marijuana program into the current structure – a limited, low-THC, high-CBD program that was created in 2014. Additionally, the Department of Health is also trying to give the Florida Board of Medicine the authority to make decisions about qualifying medical conditions rather than individual doctors.

There will be five public hearings on the new law, and the changes are expected to be subject of heated debate. The hearings will be hosted by the Department of Health next week.

Ben Pollara, Amendment 2 campaign director who also helped author the amendment is saying that the changes violate the both the letter and the spirit of the law. It was clearly defined, he says, therefore it doesn’t require any further definition.

Right now only seven cultivators are licensed to produce low-CBD high THC cannabis in the entire state. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act passed in 2014 unfortunately deemed very few patients as qualifying for the program. Additionally, cultivators were forced to pay five million dollars to be able to be considered as growers. This is drastically different than property for cannabis businesses in California and other states.

In retaliation, Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersberg introduced Senate Bill 614, legislation that would force state regulators to implement Amendment 2 a it was written. Brandes places emphasis on the will of the voters, who showed overwhelming support of Amendment 2.

Senate Bill 614 will also eliminate the cap on medical cannabis treatment centers and will establish four new licenses for the program. Applicants are allowed to posses multiple license types, and the system will not require vertical integration.

It goes without saying that Florida should keep the success of property for cannabis businesses in California as well as property for cannabis in other states in mind, as well as the will of the voters, and tread lightly on changing Amendment 2 in any way. It is the Floridian government’s job to act in their constituent’s best interest, not to get caught up with dogma and illogical rhetoric.

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