In response to a key medical marijuana advocate's home being raided earlier this week, Florida State Sen. Jeff Clemens Wednesday introduced a bill that would allow for medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
According to the Florida legislative site, the bill, dubbed the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act, would allow patiens with qualifying conditions to posess and use marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. It would create a state registry that would issue registry identification cards and would allow any patient or caregiver to obtain marijuana from a "dispensary or medical cannabis farm."
Patients and caregivers would be able to posess up to four ounces of dried flowers and can cultivate up to eight plants with as many in flower as needed so long as it's not over eight plants. The bill also leaves room for that amount to be increased if needed. Public use or display isn't allowed, but dispensaries would be able to allow on-site consumption. Police would not be able to detain medical marijuana patients who present a card and fall within the limits. The registry would remain confidential otherwise, and police would only have access when verifying a patient's status.
It's a long bill, some 133 pages when viewed online, and it goes into detail about how Florida is known for their farming and agriculture and how cannabis farming would be a natural fit for the state. If passed, it would protect medical marijuana patients from prosecution and property seizures.
A lot of the language seems to be lifted from other states, including mentions of the need for a "bona fide [sic] physician-patient relationship" that is nearly identical to language in Colorado law. Doctors also can not have a vested interest in a medical cannabis dispensary or farm - again, much like in Colorado. Also like Colorado: people with previous drug felonies aren't going to be allowed in the industry. Many have said such moves cut experienced growers out of the business.
The Florida Department of Health would oversee the confidential patient registry and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation would oversee legal dispensaries. Marijuana farms would be allowed in agricultural areas - presumably meaning outdoor cultivation as opposed to burning millions of watts in indoor grows.
The one glaring drawback we see with the bill is that it sets a THC limit for driving, but instead of testing active THC in the blood they would rely on a hair sample. That means they would be testing for cumulative use over time and not active THC in the blood. The limit would be set at 10 picograms for every 10 milligrams of hair based on one standard and only 1 picogram per 10 miligrams according to a second standard.
If passed - and it's a long shot considering Florida's history with medical marijuana legislation including Clemen's last bill two years ago - the bill would take effect immediately and the state legislature would be charged with coming up with rules to govern the industry by October of this year. But a recent poll showed overwhelming support for medical marijuana, so lets hope state legislators are paying attention.
"Scientific research consistently validates the medical benefits of marijuana in the treatment of a variety of debilitating medical conditions," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project."Seriously-ill people who use marijuana to alleviate their pain and suffering should be allowed to access it safely and legally. They certainly should not be arrested and treated like criminals."
As it is now, Florida is one of the last places you'd want to be busted with mariuana - medical or not. Twenty grams or less is a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. More than that, and you're looking at felonies starting at 5 years. POsession of 25 plants or less is a felony charge as well, with five years and $5,000 in fines.Marijuana paraphernalia can get you up to 15 years in prison.