Florida voters passed Amendment 2 in November 2016, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. And last June, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A, which provides a framework for patients to access medical marijuana safely.
Almost a year later, however, Florida's medical marijuana program is still a work in progress, and patients and potential business entrants still await greater expansion to the medical marijuana market. Senate Bill 8A provided for an additional 10 vertical licenses to have been awarded by October 3, 2017, but that did not happen. Five of the anticipated licenses earmarked for the runners up under the Compassionate Use Program were awarded, and additional licenses were awarded through litigation compromises. In total, 13 licenses are now in some form of operations. As a point of interest, two of the most recent additions are either pending sale or are on the market for in excess of 40 million dollars.
The Department of Health (DOH) had issued a proposed rule and sample application, which many applicants used as a guideline. It was anticipated that five licenses would be available during the next licensing round. The DOH also included what would have been four contingent licenses that would become licenses upon the registry of patients reaching 100,000.
As it stands today, the DOH has scrapped its proposed rule and will most likely tweak the rules and potential application requirements; however, there should not be a wholesale change. While timing is still undetermined, the DOH has indicated late spring or summer of 2018. By that point, the registry should be at 100,000, allowing for the additional four licenses to be awarded.
As of this writing, the registry is at 90,000 for patients suffering from these medical conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those above
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition
All in all, the beat goes on in Florida, and while the Department of Health has considered rules and held hearings in regard to edibles, and other ancillary rules, we await the anticipated “next round”.
David Kotler, Esquire is Counsel to Hoban Law Group and a shareholder with the law firm of Cohen Kotler, P.A. located in Boca Raton, Florida. In 2014, he formed a practice area in Medical Marijuana Business Law for the State of Florida which allows him to draw from all of his practice areas to benefit his clients. He was one of the first attorneys in Florida to undertake representation of individuals and entities hoping to open a "cannabusiness" in Florida after the legalization of full spectrum medical marijuana. He consults with a wide range of individuals and companies countrywide and serves as outside general counsel for numerous cannabis industry clients. He can be contacted email@example.com.