Although over 71 percent of Florida voters approved constitutional Amendment 2 which legalized medical marijuana this past November, full legalization and implementation may still be months away.
The good news is that patients who qualify for the MMJ program should be able to begin receiving their medication by January 3, according to stipulations in the amendment.
The bad news is that the state legislature and the Florida Department of Health still have six months to revise the current dispensing rules and have up to nine months to implement them, which could throw a wrench into the works.
As has been the case with legalization of medical and/or recreational weed all over the country, the path is almost inevitably strewn with obstacles involving city and local governments who are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the reality that over 60 percent of the country supports legal pot use—a number that rises to 77 percent among adults under 35, according to Gallup.
Attempts on the part of Florida’s cities and counties to stem the proliferation of medical marijuana has taken on many forms: some express fears over dispensaries popping up in commercial zones or that “pot shops” will be built too close to schools or that it will bring “kid-friendly pot candy to Florida.”
Some counties have proclaimed they want a so-called “moratorium” on MMJ activities to give lawmakers a chance to sort out what the future will look like.
One town wants an all-out ban on growing, cultivation and dispensing marijuana for eight months while city officials “study the activities.”
Attorney Nathan Nevins points out on his blog that three counties in Florida still completely ban the sale of alcohol.
“Even though the 21st amendment abolished prohibition nationally in 1933, in Liberty, Lafayette, and Washington counties, alcohol sales are still wholly banned,” Nevins said. “It is hard to believe that these three counties will allow medical marijuana sales.”
Of course from a business perspective, Florida would be silly not to get a move on, what with the potential to be one of the largest medical weed markets in the country.
An Arcview Market Research industry report found that Florida could make up to $1.6 billion in MMJ sales within the next three years, at a compound annual growth rate of 140 percent.
“The opportunity for good jobs, tax money and wealth creation created by Amendment 2 passing cannot be understated,”Troy Dayton, Arcview CEO, said. “Savvy entrepreneurs and pioneering investors are rightfully exuberant about the Florida market. And, thankfully, seriously ill patients will no longer need to go to high school parking lots or drug dealers to get their medicine.”