Tags Posts tagged with "florida"

florida

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Despite the voter-backed medical pot bill which won by over 70 percent back in November. State legislators in Tallahassee are doing everything in their power undermine this giant shift in Florida.

On the other hand medical pot dispensaries are slowly becoming a reality in south Florida. Miami’s first legal storefront dispensary just opened last week, just across the bay near the airport, commissioners will vote on where three new dispensaries could open in Miami Beach.

“ We have been delivering to the Miami area since July, but we’re very excited to have a brick-and-mortar storefront so patients can avoid delivery fees,” said Kim Rivers, spokesperson for Trulieve, the North Florida based firm behind the first dispensary in South Florida.

At this moment, The dispensary is operating under rules that were passed in 2014 and 2015, which allows low-THC products for certain illnesses and full marijuana products for those who are terminally ill. The shop has a variety of marijuana-based medicines ranging from vaporizers to pills and drinks for qualifying patients.

Once Tallahassee gets around to accepting this medical bill, the dispensary will be available to a vast range of patients.

The trulieve location wont be Miami-Dade’s only dispensary for long. After months of de-facto banning of medical pot storefronts, The commissioners at Miami Beach will vote on Wednesday as to where the dispensaries can operate on the beach.

Currently there are three licenses available for South beach, Commissioners have to decide how the companies will be zoned and operated, considering locations in south beach, Mid-beach and north-beach.

Choosing the locations will definitely be the main issue at hand, because medical marijuana has been treated and looked at as much less dangerous than other popular drugs. Critics have actually been making fun of the commission for repeatedly delaying the votes, accusing commissioner Ricky Arriola for rifling up voters with “ not in my backyard” comments about the use of marijuana.

Once South beach does get everything together, there will extremely difficult competition for the available licenses. Making the prospect of medicinal marijuana in southern Florida a lot more tangible in the near future.

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Matt Gaetz is a 34-year-old attorney who, while in the Florida legislature, pushed for accelerated executions and blocked any revision of the stand-your-ground law following Trayvon Martin’s shooting death. He now represents most of the Florida Panhandle in Congress. Most of us would call those solid conservative bona fides “textbook reactionary,” but back at home in Gaetz’s First Congressional District, they’re local mores. His district is so solidly Republican, it’s an island of dark red floating in a less-red sea.

The district is the most conservative in Florida, with a plus-22 conservative rating from the Cook Partisan Voting Index; which may be off by double-digits. In November’s election, Gaetz defeated the Democratic challenger by nearly 40% points. So far in Congress, Gaetz has made waves for introducing a bill that would permanently abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. And in February, during the buildup leading to the failure to repeal or replace Obamacare, Gaetz ended a town-hall meeting by leading a chant to “Make America Great Again!”

Gaetz, then, is the perfect person to carry what could be the single most important marijuana-related reform bill in a session of Congress full of cannabis-related legislation.
On April 6, Gaetz and fellow Florida Rep. Darren Soto, (D-Orlando) introduced a bill that, if passed, would force Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III. Because, you see, even if Floridians want to shoot people and then put shooters on an accelerated death-row conveyor belt, they want to use medical marijuana while doing it. On the same day Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz were elected, Florida voters also overwhelmingly voted in favor of expanded medical cannabis access.

Gaetz stated, “This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year. Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea.” Rescheduling is a slightly different tactic than outright legalization. Some marijuana hardliners want “descheduling,” rendering cannabis no more controlled than a tomato (as long as it’s not an invasive species of tomato), but Gaetz’s tactic is both more effective and more realistic. It also goes further than some prior efforts, led by Democrats.

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The windows will soon open on the Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru, the nation’s first legal drive-thru marijuana dispensary. Located in a converted car wash space in Parachute, Colorado, the dispensary will sell weed from 4 p.m. to midnight on the weekends, giving buyers late-night access. Naturally, the shop is planning to open on April 20, better known as 4/20.

CEO Mark Smith stated, “I didn’t set out thinking this would be national news. I didn’t have some big epiphany. I just saw a need for our customers.” Smith is the latest in a line of cannabis entrepreneurs, including celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Snoop Dogg, taking advantage of increasing mainstream interest in weed consumption.

The drive-thru counter is subject to the same strict regulations as all other recreational marijuana dealers. No one under the age of 21 is allowed on the premises; in this case, that includes the back seats of cars. And the substance is not allowed to be visible from outside the dispensary. Security measures must also be in place. However, for the town of Parachute, population 1,100, marijuana sales are an important component of the local economy, accounting for nearly 30% of the 2016 sales tax revenue. Cannabis sales have also been contentious, with a ban in place prior to 2015. With the weed market booming across the state, however, Parachute appears to be joining the bandwagon.

Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur said in February, “We think the drive-through is a very creative and innovative idea.” The state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division added that it was not aware of this business model “ever coming up before,” giving the shop its claim to fame. Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru’s big opening day is set to coincide with the unofficial national holiday celebrating cannabis culture.

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Florida Marijuana

A proposal that would award $2.5 million for UF to study medical marijuana recently moved forward in the Florida House of Representatives. The proposal states that money from the General Revenue Fund will be used to fund UF’s study on the safety and efficiency of medical cannabis. The bill, which passed through the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, moved into the Appropriations Committee on Friday.

If the bill is passed in the committee, it will go to a full House vote for final approval. If it passes through the House, the proposal states the one time fund will be finalized in July. House member Dane Eagle, a republican who represents District 77, sponsored the proposal, which was first submitted February 7. Janine Sikes, spokesperson for UF, wrote in an email that the money would fund UF’s proposed Cannabis and Safety Outcomes Surveillance System, a program which would monitor the safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis on 25,000 enrolled patients throughout the state.

Florida’s Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment that allows stronger cannabis to be used for a broader list of conditions, took effect in January. Of the six medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Florida, two are in Alachua County, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use. Sikes said the UF program would monitor treatments that haven’t been approved by the FDA. UF would create a secure Data Warehouse to track patient data as part of the program.

She said the $2.5 million would be for costs such as faculty salaries and data processing. She stated, “Evidence is lacking to evaluate risk/benefit of medical marijuana. It is pivotal that the state establishes a system to monitor emerging safety concerns, especially for use in children.” She said the proposal is related to the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which requires physicians to submit a quarterly patient treatment plan to the UF’s College of Pharmacy for research on the safety and effectiveness of low-THC cannabis on patients. The details of the proposal state that it would offer funding to implement research provisions in the 2014 act.

A UF nursing senior, Alicia Ciliezar, said she supports the use and research of medical cannabis. The substance helps improve pain levels for individuals with issues such as neurologic conditions and digestive disorders. She said, “I’m very eager to see the aims of the study, the objectives and the outcomes. I’m sure it will be fascinating and shape our perception on the substance.”

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Florida Marijuana

Fort Myers, Florida Representative Ray Rodrigues recently revealed the first medical marijuana statutes. They would prohibit people from smoking cannabis or using edibles. Patients would also be banned from vaporizing marijuana if they are not terminally ill. Rodrigues’ proposal is even more restrictive than the laws that existed before Florida voted to legalize medical marijuana. Ben Pollara, United for Care’s campaign director stated, “It goes further than the current statute in terms of restricting medical marijuana. There was unanimous agreement that the new amendment would expand use.”

Rodrigues’ proposal defines the “medical use” of marijuana as “the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of marijuana authorized by a physician certification.” Specifically, however, the proposal says medical use does not include “possession, use, or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking or vaping, or in the form of commercially produced food items made with marijuana or marijuana oils, except for vapable forms possessed, used, or administered by or for a qualified patient diagnosed with a terminal condition.”

Rodrigues said, “The question we’ve been asking all day is, ‘Well, how can you ingest it?”. Before last year’s legalization vote, the state had already allowed low-tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis derivatives for terminally ill people under what was known as the “Compassionate Use” law. Under the old system, doctors could register on a state database and administer low-THC, high-cannabidiol medicines such as the “Charlotte’s Web” hemp extract.

Legislators included statutes mandating that a medical marijuana patient submit his or her state driver’s license and a second form of ID to obtain approved for medicinal cannabis. Patients can have their medical-marijuana licenses suspended if they are charged with any drug offense. The state can also revoke cannabis licenses once a patient is believed to be “cured.” People who want to administer drugs to individuals who can not take them themselves must undergo background checks and training courses. Both caregivers and patients will be issued photo ID cards. Patients will be prohibited from buying more than a 90-day supply of marijuana.

The proposal also sanctions an “education campaign” to publicize the “short-term and long-term health effects of marijuana use, the “legal requirements for licit use and possession of marijuana in this state,” and the “safe use of marijuana.” The proposal also sets up an impaired-driving education campaign. Pollara said, “I don’t know how malleable the bill is right now, but it can be amended. It’s a disappointing place to start, but I’d rather it be disappointing to start than disappointing to finish.”

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Florida Marijuana

Dr. Joseph Dorn was the medical director of Surterra Therapeutics, which is one of six distributing locations that are licensed to dispense medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The constitutional amendment allows higher-strength cannabis to be used for a broader range of medical conditions. However, the true measure of what the amendment means won’t be seen immediately until a new set of rules are carried out by the State’s Legislature.

“I think the expectations for most people is it is going to be a free-for-all, and all people have to do is get their cards to receive it,” Dorn stated. “I think there is going to be a lot of chaos initially because there is still a lot of work to be done.”

WHAT THE AMENDMENT DOES
It allows the use of medical cannabis for people with debilitating medical ailments. In 2014, the Florida Legislature approved the use of low-THC and non-smoked marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, chronic seizures, epilepsy, and chronic muscle spasms.

HOW PATIENTS CAN OBTAIN MARIJUANA
Recipients must be under the care of a doctor who has finished an eight hour class and has been under examination for at least three months. Dorn said he is practically booked with appointments. There are 340 registered physicians according to the Department of Health. Christian Bax, who runs the Office of Compassionate Use recently stated that he anticipates an increase in registered doctors during the first quarter of 2017.

DISTRIBUTING ORGANIZATIONS
Five licensed locations have received authorization to distribute medical cannabis. CHT Medical will begin in-home delivery soon. There may be at least one more license that will be granted after a recent settlement between the Department of Health and two Southwest Florida nurseries.

NEXT STEPS
There are five more legislative committee weeks that are scheduled before the start of the Florida Legislature on March 7. The State Senate’s Health Policy committee held a workshop in December to hear matters concerning all parties. The House’s Health Policy committee has yet to meet.

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After failing to pass in the November 2014 election, Amendment 2 was finally passed in Florida with 71.29% (6,495,970 votes). The limited Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 is now replaced by Amendment 2 titled “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions.”

Florida physicians will decide if patients satisfy the conditions 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 Amendment states that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) will “register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.” The DOH has six months to establish stated procedures “for the registration of MMTCs [Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers] that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure proper security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection, and safety. … [The DOH] will begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering

MMTCs no later than nine (9) months after the effective date of this section.”
The amendment does not specify how many licenses will be awarded or how the system will function. Amendment 2 will be an improvement from the 2014 act rated as an F in a report ‘Medical Marijuana Access in the United States: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws,’ by Americans for Safe Access.

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Seven states legalized marijuana in some form on Election Day. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada showed up to support recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota passed ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana. As the governor of Colorado said at the time the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, users shouldn’t “break out the Cheetos” just yet. Sales are still a ways away.

Here’s a summary of when residents can use marijuana legally within their states:

Arkansas
For the people who live in Arkansas with one of 17 qualifying medical conditions — including cancer, glaucoma, and fibromyalgia — may now buy marijuana legally with a doctor’s recommendation.

The downside is that there’s no one currently ready sell patients their medicine yet. A newly made state commission will start accepting licensing applications for dispensaries and cultivation facilities on June 1, 2017. It could be a year before the first retailer opens.

California
Residents of the one of the nation’s most pot-friendly states may now use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreation, starting immediately.

Yet, there’s no place to legally buy it until January 1, 2018, when the state can begin issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries that allow them to sell nonmedical bud.

Those eager to light up before 2018 can still do so by becoming a medical marijuana patient. And if you happen to find yourself in possession of a friend’s bud, that works, too.

Florida
Florida broadened access to its existing medical marijuana program by adding 10 new qualifying conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Sunshine State will begin issuing identification cards for patients and registering dispensaries and cultivation facilities by October.

Maine
The most nail-biting ballot initiative of the election gave Mainers the right to possess a whopping 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states. It goes into effect 30 days after the governor certifies the election results.

The state has nine months to develop regulations for licensing recreational marijuana dispensaries and “marijuana social clubs,” delaying retailers possibly for years.

Massachusetts
Massachusetts, which made medical marijuana legal in 2012, will allow residents to consume and carry small amounts of weed without a prescription beginning December 15.

The ballot initiative clears a path for marijuana retail stores to open in the state as early as January 1, 2018, which could bring in some $300 million in new tax revenue.

Nevada
Voters gave a resounding yes to recreational marijuana in Nevada, where it will become legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, effective January 1.

The ability to sell will take much longer. The measure directs Nevada’s taxation office to implement regulations by the end of 2017 in preparation for a 2018 retail launch.

North Dakota
Patients with one of a dozen qualifying medical conditions may have an unprecedented 3 ounces of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. If the resident lives 40 miles from a dispensary, they may grow up to eight plants for personal use. The law takes effect in February.

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Almost all small-business owners dream of the day when they can expand nationally. This has proved to be a unique challenge for those in the marijuana industry because the products they create are illegal under federal law, and the checkerboard of states that permit marijuana sales have complex and constantly changing regulations. Dixie Brands, a company in Denver that creates drinks and other products using marijuana, is aiming to navigate those hurdles and become one of the first companies in the industry to build a national presence.

California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved adult-use marijuana. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voted to legalize or expand medical marijuana use. GreenWave Advisors, a financial research and advisory firm based in New York, estimates that marijuana product sales in the United States will be $6.5 billion in 2016 and about $30 billion in 2021 if products derived from marijuana are legalized in all 50 states in some capacity.

The company makes Dixie Elixirs, bottled beverages infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. All are sold at licensed recreational pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries. Because of federal laws on controlled substances, one challenge to expansion is that products cannot cross state lines, so a pot brownie baked in Oregon, for example, cannot be sold in neighboring Washington, even though the product is legal in both places.

Some states require marijuana businesses to be owned by in-state residents, further impeding multistate expansion. When Colorado recently required all marijuana food products to be stamped with a THC symbol, Dixie Brands had to create all new molds for its chocolates and discontinue their Dixie Roll product, which is similar to Tootsie Rolls, because it could not be stamped efficiently. Because of federal laws, marijuana companies cannot open bank accounts, cannot use credit cards and cannot deduct business expenses from their federal taxes. Many companies in the marijuana industry had been started by product aficionados with little business experience.

When recreational marijuana joined medical marijuana as a legal market in Colorado in 2014, they were poised to expand Dixie Brands by adding to their line of products. Two years ago, in their first move outside of the state, the pair found a licensing partner to produce Dixie products in California.

“Our partner wanted to manufacture other companies’ products as well as ours, and we wanted more focus on absolute quality and consistency,” Mr. Smith stated.

“To have total legal, financial and operational control, we decided we would need to control the manufacturing and distribution facilities in any state we expanded to.” To make this happen, Mr. Smith had to find a way to work within regulations that require owners of marijuana businesses to be residents of the state.

A local partner would grow and process the marijuana, but only for Dixie Brands, and only under the company’s strict instructions. Consistent product quality is critical, Mr. Smith said.

“Coca-Cola in Denver and Seattle taste exactly the same, and we want Dixie Elixirs and our other products to have that reputation.” Each new manufacturing site will cost about $2 million, according to Mr. Smith.

The state-based partner will own the marijuana itself and employ the personnel who work with the marijuana in any form: plants, concentrates, finished products and the like.

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By late last night on election day, it was clear that Amendment 2—the amendment allowing those with debilitating conditions to use medicinal marijuana—would pass. Amendment 2 needed at least 60% of the vote to pass, which it did easily by receiving 71% of the vote in favor of passing Amendment 2. Florida now becomes the 26th state to legalize marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada also approved marijuana for recreational use Tuesday night.

Two years ago, Florida had a similar amendment on its ballots for medicinal marijuana, however this amendment fell short of the 60% majority vote it needed to pass. John Morgan, an Orlando trial lawyer who has been outspoken in his support for medicinal marijuana on the ballot, receives a sweet victory after all his efforts on the medicinal marijuana campaign.

As of right now, it is unclear how the medicinal marijuana provision will be implemented in Florida. The Florida Department of Health has a deadline of July 2017 to set in place how they plan on regulating the amendment. By October of 2017, Florida must start registering growers, dispensaries, and issuing medicinal cards to patients.

Recent polls leading up to the election made it seem clear that Amendment 2 was going to pass, despite efforts by Republican fundraise Mel Sembler and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s effort to campaign against medicinal marijuana use. The arguments against the amendment for medicinal marijuana referenced how marijuana dispensaries may not be safe, and an overall unregulated drug industry. However, Amendment 2 allows for the state to closely regulate every aspect of the medicinal marijuana selling and growing process.

On the other hand, supporters of Amendment 2 claimed that medicinal marijuana is a wonder drug that provides relief and therapy to those who have serious medical conditions, along with claiming that marijuana, when regulated, is safe to use. Overall, the passing of Amendment 2 is not only a big step for Florida, but also a big step in the overall process of legalizing marijuana across the nation.

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