The 1st District Court of Appeal asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether the state’s “vertical integration” system of requiring licensed operators to grow, process and distribute cannabis and derivative products runs afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida.
Four states, not including Florida, allow people with an opioid addiction to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Many physicians say it’s a bad idea, with marijuana unproven either to manage pain or kick an opioid addiction.
Florida’s law requiring pot operators to grow, process and distribute cannabis and related products created an “oligopoly” and runs afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, an appellate court ruled Tuesday.
Dozens of new state laws are expanding legal cannabis use — and expunging the records of users caught up in the system. This unprecedented wave of legislative activity at the state level is yet further evidence that public consensus on cannabis legalization has undergone a seismic shift.
In other states where medical marijuana has been legalized, smokable products comprise between 40 and 60 percent of sales. Florida voters in 2016 approved a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.
The House passed the proposal (SB 182) in a 101-11 vote Wednesday, sending the bill to the governor two days before a March 15 deadline he had set. The Senate passed the bill last week.
Under the revised plan, dispensaries could sell any form of smokable marijuana, and patients could buy devices to smoke cannabis at state-licensed medical marijuana treatment centers or other retail outlets, such as head shops.
It’s time for lawmakers and health officials to recognize the well-established power of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain — and to acknowledge its emerging role in combating the opioid abuse crisis.
The amendment also would require pre-rolled joints with filters. That was designed to address concerns about the negative health effects of smoking.
But legislative leaders may not be keen on completely doing away with vertical integration, a move that could destabilize a growing and lucrative market in which one marijuana license recently sold for $63 million in cash.