With more than 70% voters supporting an act which legalized medical use of cannabis, medical cannabis use became legal in Florida in 2016. The act was known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2.
However, in 2017 the Gov. Rick Scott signed into a law that curbed all forms of marijuana that were then available – only concentrates such as capsules, topicals, tinctures, and vapes were acceptable, but according to the new law, smokable pot was prohibited in the state.
This ban on cannabis usage was uplifted on Monday when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to repeal it. It was shortly after Gov. Ron had took over the office in January, had he appealed the Florida legislature to send a bill that would legalize cannabis in the state by March 15.
“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016,” DeSantis said in a Monday statement. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld. Now that we have honoured our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honoured my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”
Republican State Sen. Jeff Brandes co-sponsored the legislation with Democrat Linda Stewart.
“I have always been in favor of medical cannabis and believed that was what voters intended in 2016,” Brandes told CNN. He said that he was elated to give people what they had rightfully voted for three years ago.
Cannabis Legalization in Florida and its Impact
The newly enacted law favours marijuana for medicinal purposes. It allows patients to receive 2.5 ounces of whole flower cannabis in every 35 days. Patients under the age of 18 can smoke marijuana if they are suffering form a terminal condition, moreover, they can get a second opinion from a paediatrician regarding the dosage.
The Marijuana Policy Project, a group that seeks to decriminalize marijuana, said that the inception of the new law has opened up alleys for them to educate people about marijuana with in-depth research. They also said that it is a great step forward for the patients, giving them more options for their treatment.
“(Medical marijuana) should be an option available to patients and a decision for patients to make with their doctors, not one that should be made by government officials,” a spokesman for the group said.
While marijuana will now be available at medical stores and pharmacies, there will be a stringent dosage check which will allow patients to only buy marijuana if prescribed by a medical expert.
Marijuana has 2 key components- CBD and THC, the former is a non-psychoactive component which does not cause any “high” and comes with a gamut of health benefits.
Contrarily, THC (tetrahydro cannabinoid) has psychoactive capabilities which can trigger anxiety, depression, seizures and permanent mental disorders in severe cases. The legalized marijuana will have a specified amount of CBD component to ensure that it does not potentially harm patients.
Legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes – the next step
Brandes, one of the legislators behind the new law said that marijuana legalization for recreational purposes is a forthcoming decision which will likely be on the ballot in the upcoming elections.
“I think the likelihood that it passes is pretty good in 2022 or 2024, and we should prepare for its passage,” he said.
Cannabis-infused jelly beans, beverages, beauty products and edibles are right around the corner in other states. Florida is yet to see a new phase of legalization of marijuana where people can freely consume and possess cannabis for recreational purposes.
Multi-national companies and firms have already collaborated with cannabis-producing industries to create new line of cannabis-infused products to cater to the consumer market. The legalization of cannabis is predicted to give a boost to the business market across all verticals; beauty to medicinal, candies to drinks, all of it.