John Welsh

Questions Abound for Implementing Amendment 2

Officials in Florida have a tricky task in front of them — how to implement the new tenets of the medical cannabis program approved by voters on Election Day. State regulators have until July to write the rules for the new program, but, according to a Tampa Bay Times report, the process is complicated by the current program that has a limited qualifying condition list and strict rules on who can use what products.

John Morgan, the chairman of the pro-campaign United for Care, compared the passage of Amendment 2 to “raising the speed limit from five miles per hour to 65 miles per hour,” because it vastly increases the number of patients allowed to access medical cannabis and adds more conditions to the qualifying list.

Policymakers have three options moving forward — create entirely new laws for the expanded program, opening up more applications for cultivators, product manufacturers, and dispensaries; allowing the six nurseries already licensed to be the sole suppliers; or operating two separate medical cannabis programs.

Sen. Jeff Brandes explained that in its current form the bill would supersede the existing program, and, in his opinion, the best way to move forward is sanctioning more operators.

“I am not willing to compromise about opening up the market, period, full stop,” Brandes said. “We are going to have a free market system here in Florida.”

According to the report, licensees under the current program and companies seeking to do business in the state are already hiring lobbyists to push the new rules in their favor. Brandes said that any attempts to spoil the implementation of Amendment 2 would likely end up in court which, he said, “would be the absolute worst case scenario for everybody but especially the patients.”

Department of Health Spokesperson Mara Gambineri said the current law will stand until the constitutional amendment goes into effect on Jan. 3.

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