Following trend, Florida legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2014
when the Governor signed
Senate Bill 1030 into law, now codified as
381.986, F.S. From the outset, it has been interesting to watch the legalization process
of medical marijuana in the state of Florida. Voters approved The Florida
Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as
Amendment 2, in the 2016 general election. More than 71 percent of Florida voters
approved the amendment, the largest percentage of support a medical marijuana
initiative has received by popular vote.
Since then, the legislature has been working hard to pass new legislation
relating to Amendment 2. On June 23, 2017, Governor Rick Scott and the
SB 8-A in a special session. This action was taken only after the legislature
failed to implement a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug in
the regular session. The law builds on the existing compassionate use
of low-THC and medical cannabis program with additional provisions to
implement the Constitutional Amendment passed by Florida voters in the
2016 General Election,,now codified as
Art. X, S. 29.
SB 8-A specifically makes the sale of medical marijuana exempt from sales
tax. This is a big deal for patients as it decreases the amount they pay
for the drug. This is also an important change in the medical marijuana
world as a whole, This exemption means in the Florida legislatures eyes,
medical marijuana should be treated the same as other prescription medicines,
at least for tax purposes, which is a big step.
SB 8-A also allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles, and vape
pens with a doctor’s approval, but bans smoking. Many have taken
issue with the fact that the law bans smoking, claiming that the people
voted for smoking when they voted for Amendment 2 in the 2016 election,
and now the legislature has taken that away. The amendment allowed the
Legislature to address smoking, but only by prohibiting it in public places.
Thus, many have taken the position that any additional regulation violates
the intent of the Constitutional amendment. The law has excluded smoking
as it has defined “medical use” to exclude “possession,
use or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking.” The People
United for Medical Marijuana brought suit against The Florida Department
of Health in Leon County, claiming the provision redefined and narrowed
the definition of marijuana in direct conflict with the Florida State
The law also implements several other provisions relating to medical marijuana
that can be found
here. Among the other provisions of the law is eliminating the 90 day waiting
period before a physician can prescribe medical marijuana to a patient.
The law also outlines the requirements to qualify as a caregiver for someone
who uses medical marijuana.
Additionally, the law also sets out a new plan to license 10 new companies
as growers, also known as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (“MMTCs”),
which would bring the statewide total to 17. The Department of Health
has also received push back in the form of several lawsuits taking issue
with the manner in which the Department has gone about choosing what nurseries
were and were not granted licenses to cultivate and sell medical marijuana.
The legislation is not perfect, but it does achieve the job of getting
patients medical marijuana, though possibly not in the preferred form.
Additionally, the law has set in place a plan to expand the business side
of medical marijuana. Overall, SB 8-A has brought many positives to the
table for those medically in need of the drug, but it is also understandable
why many take issue with the legislature excluding smoking from the approved
uses. It will be interesting to watch what happens with the lawsuits challenging the law.
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In his law practice Mr. Donnini's primary practice is multi-state sales
and use tax as well as state corporate income tax controversy. Mr. Donnini
also practices in the areas of federal tax controversy, federal estate
planning, Florida probate, and all other state taxes including communication
service tax, cigarette & tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and Native American
taxation. Mr. Donnini obtained his LL.M. in Taxation at NYU. Mr. Donnini
is licensed to practice law in Florida. If you have any questions please
do not hesitate to contact him via email [email protected]
or phone at 954-639-4496.