Many Floridians kept marijuana in their back pocket for 18 months before flocking in staggering numbers to dispensaries.
A whopping 91,000 Florida natives are consuming 56 pounds of marijuana a week, The Miami Herald reported early Friday morning. The lateness of this intense boom comes as a surprise to experts who projected half a million users to congregate in droves to their local dispensaries. It is especially surprising when taking into consideration that marijuana advocates won the 2016 vote by an astounding 70 percent. Why the delay?
Unclear legislature and regulations concerning the amendment to the state’s constitution are said to be culpable for the sluggish launch of the medicinal marijuana market. Even conservatives were questioning why Health Department Officials were stalling. They were reportedly being extremely particular in choosing which companies could grow and vend to customers, and then they got choosy with how people were going to be permitted to consume cannabis products.
In late May, however, the Health Department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use began registering new users. Patients anxiously awaiting to be registered and approved had been clogging the system for months resulting in the registration of approximately 5,400 new patients a week. As herds of now-approved patients hurry to get their medicinal marijuana, dispensaries are at an all-time success. They are reportedly serving over 100 customers a day and are desperately searching for new employees to help with the increased workload. The country’s opinion surrounding marijuana is evolving, more and more states are beginning to legalize its medicinal and recreational use. Currently, 29 states allow medicinal use and 9 states permit recreational use. As the country begins to see marijuana in a new light, could the decriminalization of marijuana be closer than we think? Canada is on its way to generating C$7 billion in tax revenue due to their highly anticipated decision concerning legalizing recreational marijuana. If all goes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans, the Canadian government will soon be swimming in green. And not just the herbal kind.
Back in Florida, people are frustrated by the regulations imposed on them. Companies were required to pay a non-refundable $60,000 application fee, leaving smaller businesses unable to participate in this booming market opportunity. The Health Department banned the smoking of marijuana and have currently only approved five companies to sell marijuana to the ever-growing Floridian patient list. With 37 dispensaries for the whole state, most of which are located in more densely populated areas, patients are opting to have their medicine delivered directly to them. Delivery services will go as far as Key West. The delivery person must hand the hemp plant directly to the patient. No family member or friend is permitted to accept on their behalf.
Doctors also have to jump through hoops to prescribe marijuana to their patients. The state course, a requirement to get the prescription authorization, was initially eight hours long and could cost hundreds of dollars. Hardly anyone signed up for the course, thus forcing the state to cut the price and shorten the course to two hours. This incentive has failed to attract as many licensed physicians as was intended. Most physicians who haven’t taken the course have no background in the properties of the drug because it was illegal up until now.
Additionally, the state has implemented different security aspects for dispensaries. For obvious reasons. Patients must have a special identification card given to them after they have been approved by the Department of Health in order to enter the dispensaries. After they have been buzzed in, they are deposited into a seemingly regular doctor’s office lobby with a receptionist. The only telltale sign that anything is amiss, an armed security guard in the corner. This added security is a state requirement. Then, using their identification card again, they are allowed entry into the room where they can collect their medicine.
With all its delays and kinks, Florida’s allowance of medicinal marijuana just might be yet another step in the country’s possible legalization.