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Florida Medical Marijuana

Arguing that a new law violates constitutional rights, supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking more time to submit petition signatures to get on the November ballot.

State and federal courts are expected in 2020 to grapple with high-profile Florida issues, ranging from felons’ voting rights to medical marijuana.

Here are snapshots of five key legal issues to watch in the new year:

In 6 Months, About 57 Tons Of Smokable Medical Marijuana Was Ordered For Florida Patients

Nov 20, 2019

More than 1.82 million ounces of smokable medical marijuana were ordered for 128,040 patients over a six-month period, a new state report shows.

That translates to 113,922 pounds, or 57 tons, of flower marijuana.

A large majority of voters approve of the job Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing, according to the University of North Florida’s Opinion Research Lab.

Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida got a big boost this week from Orlando attorney John Morgan. He's credited with helping to legalize medical marijuana by advocating for Amendment 2 in 2016. 

Morgan backs the inclusion of a question about the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state's 2020 ballot. The proposed initiative would require nearly 800,000 signatures of registered voters and a review by Florida's Supreme Court to make it to the voters. The proposed amendment would require 60 percent of  approval to become law.

Prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan continues to put his money behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would gradually raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Christian Simmons / WMFE

Supporters of legalized recreational marijuana in Florida just got a big-name backer: high-profile Orlando attorney John Morgan.

More than 60 people gathered in between racks of clothes and jewelry at a Neiman Marcus Thursday night to discuss a Florida industry that is quickly growing and attracting new business—cannabis.

The networking event and seminar involved lawyers, accountants and other professionals who see opportunities in the cannabis sector and want to capitalize. They discussed state regulations for cannabis companies with people already involved in the industry and challenges new businesses can face.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is tapping Nashville hemp consultant Holly Bell for the department’s cannabis director. Bell was instrumental in getting Tennessee’s hemp industry off the ground, and Fried hopes Bell can do the same in Florida.

“The economic impact for our state is enormous. [The] medical marijuana industry alone is projected to have a $1.6 billion economics, creating more jobs in manufacturing by 2020. Hemp can be a multi-billion-dollar industry here in the state,” said Fried.

DeSantis Pushes To End Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

Jan 17, 2019
Abe Aboraya / WMFE

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will push to end a state ban on smoking medical marijuana in Florida.

Report Details Growth Of Medical Marijuana

Dec 29, 2018

Despite a bumpy rollout that has drawn lawsuits and criticism from legislators, a new report shows the number of Floridians using medical marijuana continues to grow.

In the first nine months of 2018, more than 136,000 patients across the state received certifications from 1,070 physicians to receive medical marijuana.

Defending a 2017 law that set regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana industry, Florida Department of Health attorneys have asked an appeals court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling that they say “injected confusion and uncertainty” into the licensing of marijuana firms.

Libreshot

The Sarasota County Commission has rejected a preemptive ban on recreational marijuana because of an error found in the ordinance.

Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia will be offering graduate-level certificate programs in medical marijuana.

State Issues New Pot License, Gets Ready For Four More

Jul 16, 2018

Florida Department of Health officials took two major actions in the medical-marijuana sphere Friday, issuing a highly sought-after license to a Miami nursery that successfully challenged the state and laying out the process for four more licenses as the cannabis industry continues to blossom.

A Florida judge has ruled that a lawsuit against the state’s decision to ban smokable forms of medical marijuana can proceed but without one of the key parties.

Leon County Judge Karen Gievers ruled on Friday that three patients suing the state can proceed because their claims that the ban impacts them are sufficient. Gievers dismissed the motion by People United for Medical Marijuana, which is the committee formed by Orlando attorney John Morgan, because it lacks sufficient grounds. The organization has 10 days to file an amended lawsuit.

The trial lawyer who led the effort to allow marijuana for medical uses in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s decision to ban smokable forms of the plant.

Smoking marijuana is the best way to administer it to some patients with debilitating conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, lawyer John Morgan said at a news conference outside the Leon County courthouse where he filed the suit.

Legislation to enact Florida's medical marijuana constitutional amendment is headed to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The Senate and House approved the bill during Friday's final day of the special session. The House passed it 108-9 before the Senate voted 29-6.

Both chambers reached agreement on Wednesday that there would be a cap of 25 dispensaries per medical marijuana treatment center and that there wouldn't be a sales tax. The bill still bans smoking despite amendment supporters saying it is written into the language.

With just days left in their annual session, Florida legislators entered their final week struggling to work out deals on everything from the fine print of a new state budget to a major gambling bill.

Carson Frame / WUSF

The Hillsborough County Commission is jumping ahead of the state legislature by creating a framework for medical marijuana dispensaries.

cannabisbusinessexecutive.com

On Saturday, just a few days before the election, the Florida Cannabis Coalition will hold “Canna-Day Tampa Bay” to educate people about medical marijuana.

United For Care’s John Morgan and Jessica Spencer squared off Tuesday night in a televised medical marijuana debate.

YouTube

Fracking in Florida and marijuana-laced candy have become campaign fodder during this political season. So PolitiFact Florida's Josh Gillin has dug into these claims, and talks about these "half-truths" with WUSF's Steve Newborn.
 

Citing frustration with delays in getting non-euphoric cannabis to patients, a Florida Senate panel Thursday pushed forward a revised attempt to create a regulatory framework for the pot industry but did not include changes sought by black farmers who complain they would be shut out of the industry.

The bill, approved by the Senate Rules Committee and headed to the Senate floor, would quadruple the number of state-approved businesses that could participate from five to 20.

Panel Crafts Regulation for Medical Marijuana

Feb 6, 2015

A panel crafting regulations to jump-start the state's new medical-marijuana industry replaced a lottery system, scrapped by a judge in November, with a scorecard to pick five nurseries to grow, process and distribute types of pot authorized by the Legislature last year.

The 12-member committee also set an application fee at $75,000 and tried to find ways to avoid the need for legislative approval of the regulations in the hope of getting non-euphoric cannabis to sick children as quickly as possible.

A panel comprised of the director of the state Office of Compassionate Use, an accountant and a member of the Drug Policy Advisory Council would pick five nurseries to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana under a revamped rule released Thursday by the Florida Department of Health.

The selection committee would take the place of a lottery system initially proposed by the agency but nixed by an administrative law judge last year and is one of a number of changes included in the 10-page draft rule.

The organization pushing for medical marijuana in Florida got a new ballot initiative approved by the Secretary of State Friday.  United for Care believes their new proposal will succeed where last year’s Amendment Two failed.

Fact-Checking the Popularity of Amendment Two

Nov 19, 2014
politifact.com

In the midterm elections earlier this month in Florida, the constitutional amendment to allow for the distribution of medical marijuana needed 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Amendment Two received 57.6 percent.

Judge Strikes Down Medical Marijuana Rule

Nov 15, 2014

An administrative law judge Friday struck down a rule proposed by health regulators as a framework for Florida's new medical-marijuana industry, finding multiple flaws in the controversial rule challenged by the state's largest nursery and other growers.

Administrative Law Judge W. David Watkins sided with Miami-based Costa Farms and others that objected to the Department of Health's use of a lottery to pick five licensees that will grow, process and distribute strains of non-euphoric marijuana authorized by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year.

There’s been more than a little grumbling from some quarters about Amendment Two failing to pass despite garnering support from the majority of voters.  But there are some pretty good reasons for requiring a supermajority.

Back in 2006, Florida voters passed a measure called Amendment 3.  It raised the threshold for passing ballot initiatives in all future elections from the simple majority of 50 percent-plus-one to supermajority of 60 percent.  Supporters at the time argued the ballot initiative process was being taken over by special interests. 

The Ledger

The primary backer of a medical marijuana amendment has not given up the push despite Tuesday’s rejection by Florida’s voters, this time with an eye on the Legislature.

“This fight does not end tonight, the fight begins tonight” attorney John Morgan said late Tuesday in an email to the initiative’s supporters. Tomorrow we go to Tallahassee.”

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