Q&A – Marijuana In Florida

Today’s question comes from Janice: 

I heard a bit of your conversation with the attorney this morning regarding the legalization of marijuana. As a nurse of many years, I fail to understand what benefit there is to "legalizing marijuana." We use all kinds of restricted drugs for medical reasons - why should marijuana be treated any differently. 

My father, husband, and brother-in-law all died of cancer. My husband could legally take oxycodone, my father took fentanyl, and my brother-in-law was taking huge doses of morphine to try to control his bone pain.  However, none of those are legally sold on the street. If someone needs marijuana, why can't they just get a prescription for it? The attorney this morning said his mother needed marijuana to deal with her cancer before she passed.  I don't see that anyone would have a problem with that - but we don't need marijuana shops for that. 

Please enlighten me. 

Bottom Line: I think there might have been a bit of confusion about my position, so I’ll start there. What annoys me most about politics, and this can be true of the politicians as well, is hypocrisy. I voted against the Florida Amendment authorizing medical marijuana in 2016. Not because I’m opposed to it but because there’s a right and wrong way of doing things

As I’ve stated for years, the right way to pursue marijuana legalization in any form is at the federal level. As long as it’s a schedule one drug according to the federal government it’s not legal in any form in any state. The legalization effort, including for medical marijuana should have happened in Washington, not here. 

It’s my consistency on core principles and values that also lead me to the greater point of your note. I’m supportive of real legalization at the federal level to put an end to the lawlessness taking place in states like ours. To your point, from a healthcare perspective, I’m hopeful that people don’t use it recreationally. 

Now, our new governor also has some thoughts on this topic. What might Governor DeSantis’s moves on marijuana mean in Florida? As I've mentioned, prior to him taking the post, there are significant differences in opinion and priorities between DeSantis and his predecessor. We’ve already seen that play out with environmental policy, public officials across the state and now medical marijuana. With the governor ready to act on marijuana policy in our state what will that mean?  

The first and easiest step is for the state to drop legal action opposing the smoking of medical marijuana. That’s doubtlessly is going to happen but it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. It’s likely you’ll see a push for a legislative overhaul of state guidelines on legally growing marijuana. Currently, Florida law only legally enables growers to have a maximum of six flowering or 12 vegetative plants. Only established nurseries are enabled to grow as well. State regs state that a nursery must have 30 years of operation before being eligible for a license to grow as well as a minimum of 400,000 plants in cultivation. This locks out a lot of potential growers across the state.  

I also expect the state to act to pave the path toward possible recreational adaptation in the future. Reading between the lines it appears there’s an expectation that there will be recreational legalization either at the state or federal level in the not-so-distant future. Laying the foundation for that today could help the state capture most of the business opportunity in-state rather than relying on imports for the product when/if recreational use takes hold. 

Photo by: Getty Images



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