There are 21 million people in Florida, millions of whom will eventually qualify for the medical-grade marijuana that voters approved in November. Very soon, a hell of a lot of weed will be legally sold in the Sunshine State. And so far, lawmakers have given exactly seven companies the right to grow and sell all of that pot.
Author Jerry Iannelli
Florida’s mostly Republican legislators can barely pass basic laws like tax cuts or budget plans without tripping over themselves or spiraling into intra-party screaming matches. They’re so bad at writing their own laws that, as the Miami Herald astutely pointed out last week, gigantic companies like Florida Power & Light have to write laws for them. The current Legislature is a Stygian pit of bad ideas.
So, naturally, Florida voters in 2016 chose to give all of those people drugs.
In November, more than seven in ten Floridians at the polls checked yes on Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Considering Floridians would probably split 50-50 if asked whether they’d like a free delicious cupcake, that’s an amazing result.
Florida’s United for Care campaign spent two full election cycles — 2014 and 2016 — drafting, fighting, and pushing Floridians to legalize medicinal cannabis for demonstrably sick people. Last year, 72 percent of Floridians voted to amend the state constitution to legalize medical weed for people with diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Now it’s up to the Florida Legislature to adopt medical marijuana rules.
Yesterday, Fort Myers Rep. Ray Rodrigues finally unveiled the first medical weed regulations — and they would ban people from smoking marijuana or using edibles. Patients would also be prohibited from vaporizing weed if they aren’t terminally ill.
Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the nation’s biggest art fairs, is upon us, which means all sorts of cool, interesting, weird, shocking, and downright breathtaking art will soon be splashed across town for all the world to see. If you can imagine it, it’s probably represented somewhere during Miami Art Week. And one booth at the art fair Spectrum Miami aims to set your imagination ablaze — with weed.
If the latest crop of polls is correct, medical marijuana will be legally available to sick people in Florida tomorrow. As of late October, close to 80 percent of Floridians supported Amendment 2, which would legalize weed statewide for medical purposes, such as helping cancer or Alzheimer’s patients. Sixty percent of the electorate needs to approve the measure for it to pass.
But even assuming it passes, many Florida residents might need to travel pretty far to get their hands on medicinal cannabis. That’s because multiple cities are already gearing up to pass six-month “moratoriums” on medical marijuana — including Miami Beach.
With the looming November 2 vote on Amendment 2, which would expand medical marijuana in Florida for specific diseases and conditions, one thing is clear: Weed is a polarizing topic. As New Times reported in August, according to one of the most respected marijuana-usage surveys in America, roughly half the residents in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties think smoking weed once a month is “harmful” and should be avoided. The other half rallied for legalization in our Facebook comments.
Police lights flashed outside Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti, Miami this past weekend during the Vote Yes Marijuana Fest, but no one seemed to mind. The officers had been hired to work the event. There were no plans to rough up any of the participants of the festivities, which included a 2:30 a.m. blunt-rolling contest.
“The police understand,” organizer Oski Gonzalez said. “They don’t want to keep hassling people because of some marijuana. They want to be out looking for some real criminals.”
Florida might finally vote to legalize medical marijuana November 8.
But beginning last Monday, a few South Floridians became able to use a strain of low-THC cannabis oil called Haleigh’s Hope. The oil contains high quantities of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, which calms epilepsy patients. However, it does not contain marijuana’s psychoactive chemicals.
In May 2014, Miami-Dade Commissioner Dennis Moss placed a slightly controversial item on that month’s agenda. He wanted to investigate how the medical marijuana industry might affect agriculture in the county.
“This is an item that’s causing a lot of arguments in our society. I think we have enough problems,” Souto said at the time. “It’s premature to jump into things like this.”
He was wrong, though. Just one month later, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure allowing patients with cancer or seizures to use low-THC marijuana. And earlier this year, the law was expanded to give people with terminal illnesses access to high-THC marijuana as well.
Now, with two months left until full-fledged medical marijuana is back on the ballot in Florida, the county has released the results of that study initiated by Moss in 2014. Considering the laws currently on the books, officials believe the total sales generated each year could be as high as $124 million in Miami-Dade.