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Gabriel Kaplan

Florida Medical Cannabis: Coming to a City Near You, But When?

The Florida medical cannabis industry is growing by the day. As a result of Senate Bill 8-A, Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, or MMTC’s, are subject to additional regulations compared to their Low-THC predecessors. In the state’s formative medical cannabis program, MMTC’s were referred to as Dispensing Organizations and were only permitted to dispense a very Low-THC product, except to terminally ill patients who could receive full-strength THC products.

Here are some key questions that people are asking when it comes to Florida’s medical cannabis program and its implementation timeline:

What’s currently happening in the legislature?
The implementation legislation for Amendment 2, titled SB 8-A, has been signed by Governor Scott. The Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use is tasked with creating the program around these laws and is also responsible for crafting final rules and regulations, as well as awarding business licenses.

What are we waiting on? What’s next?
The Florida Office of MMJ Use will release its final rules and timeline for the MMTC application process very soon. Businesses are already in the process of submitting license applications to the state, with several having already received local permits and authorizations. An applicant will need to present a designated location and be able to prove that the property is permitted by the municipality for the use that it is intended. In order to receive a license from the state, you’ll first need to prove full compliance within your local municipality in which you choose to operate. The Florida Department of Health has until October 3, 2017 to issue patient ID cards under the conditions listed in the Amendment.

Does my community allow MMTC’s?
Cities and Counties across Florida are in the process of developing their own ordinances regarding medical cannabis production, processing, and distribution. Under current law, local municipalities must regulate MMTC’s in the same manner that they regulate pharmacies and are also allowed to create their own sets of rules governing how they must operate. That includes the option to impose a moratorium, or outright ban. Municipalities are taking varied approaches, with some already permitting dispensaries from the Low-THC program to open in cities like Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and more coming.

If I want to start a licensed MMTC, where do I start?
There are several prerequisites for seeking an MMTC license. Securing property, compiling a team that has experience in cultivating, processing, and selling cannabis in a regulated market, background checks for all applicants and their employees, among several others. Applications for an MMTC license can be found here. An organization seeking an MMTC will first need to apply for and receive a state license. Prior to applying for a state license, you’ll first need to ensure you have local permits and zoning approval to operate each component of the business; produce, process, dispense/sell. The requirements for local approval will vary slightly from municipality to municipality, so you’ll need to get familiar with your local requirements if you want to be seriously considered for state licensure.

What’s the tax rate in FL?
Medical marijuana is not taxed in Florida!

Are there purchase limits?
Yes. Patients can purchase up to three, 70-day supply limits prior to needing a renewed recommendation. The purchasing limits in Florida are based on the patient’s recommendation from their doctor. A patient can receive a recommendation for up to 3, 70-day supplies. This is tracked in real-time in the state’s compassionate use registry. So, if a patient were to make multiple purchases in a given day, each individual purchase would count against their 70-day supply and that would be reflected and tracked from location-to-location in the state database.

What is one, single day supply?
The law is written in terms of what a patient is legally allowed to possess and the total amount that can be prescribed for a 70-day period. A patient can be issued a recommendation and purchase that amount either in a dispensary or via delivery. So, if a physician recommends that a patient consume 100 mg, 5 times per day, then the single day supply for that patient is 500 mg, or half of one gram. 500 mg/day x 70 days = 35,000 mg able to be purchased before you require another recommendation to increase your supply. This system is intended as a safeguard to prevent overselling to patients who can then divert product into the black market.

What kinds of products will be available for consumption?
The plant material of cannabis will not be permitted for sale or use; however, you’ll be able to purchase oils for vaping and products such as edibles, which will all follow strict potency guidelines. Florida will not permit the cannabis flower in a smokeable format.

Can I grow my own flower?
No. Home grows are not permitted under Florida law.

Is adult use being discussed at all?
There is an effort by Regulate Florida to have an adult-use initiative on the November, 2018 ballot.

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