In November 2016, Florida citizens voted in overwhelming favor of Amendment 2, which will expand the state’s current laws governing medical marijuana. Presently, cannabis for medical treatment is limited to patients with specific medical conditions.
As it stands, the current law is very constraining. Unless terminally ill, qualified patients can only be prescribed “low-THC” cannabis; physicians must complete and pass an educational course and subsequent exam (in addition to all the education and exams already completed to get their medical licenses); and dispensing organizations must be vertically integrated (meaning that to be a dispensary, a single organization must cultivate, process, transport, and dispense the marijuana).
In January 2017, the Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use released proposed rules which will govern the new law. While not initially very extensive or accommodating of new players in the industry, experts, professionals, and advocates are cautiously optimistic the final rules will be more favorable. The OCU has until June to finalize and implement regulations, and until September to start issuing ID cards. Public hearings are ongoing, and it is expected that the rules will be broadened.
Because medical marijuana has been legal in Florida since 2014, albeit in a very limited capacity, there are already seven approved dispensaries. However, it is expected that 2017 will see rapid and exponential growth in the number of cannabis investors, businesses, and consumers.
As Florida is poised to be one of the largest cannabis markets, and assuming new licenses will become available, interested parties are actively preparing. Key steps are establishing and capitalizing entities, securing real estate, building a team and brand, and registering trademarks and patents.
While much is still unknown, what is clear is that medical marijuana businesses will have to comply with security, product testing, labeling, inspection, and safety standards.
With the help of McAllister Garfield, P.C.’s experienced attorneys, our clients will be in the best position to quickly and efficiently open, operate, and scale their businesses in Florida.