What Does 2017 Mean for Medical Marijuana in Miami and Surrounding Cities?

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Jeffrey Feiler

Picture of Florida in 2017, Where Medical Marjuana was Recently ApprovedIn November, we all celebrated. Amendment 2 passed in Florida by 71 percent – and thanks to this new language in the Florida State Constitution, we can look forward to a safer medical world for so many patients. Patients who suffer from chronic, debilitating diseases will finally have the opportunity to qualify for treatment. Groups like United For Care have laid the ground work, but business owners and patients alike deserve to know: what will 2017 bring for medical marijuana in the state of Florida?

As your Miami medical marijuana lawyer, I'll be happy to give you a look at what's on the docket for 2017.

The Department of Health Will Set Regulations

Amendment 2 provided the outline for how medical marijuana will be implemented – and named the Department of Health the organization to take care of the implementation. The DOH has a limited time to promulgate Rules and Regulations for a legal medical marijuana system in Florida – in six months' time, they must develop solutions for multiple aspects of the medical marijuana system. These include implementing new regulations, providing an ID card system for patients and caregivers, and setting possession limits for patients. They will also be in charge of compliance for medical marijuana businesses and dispensaries, so if you're an entrepreneur seeking to get involved in this field, you should be prepared to deal with the DOH on a regular basis. This will include determining whether dispensaries can grow, process, and sell their own cannabis, or whether or not all three of those activities will be licensed separately.

According to Amendment 2, the DOH must have all this completed by July 3, 2017. However, the Amendment does not prohibit the Florida Legislature from enacting laws, and legislative committees are already hard at work conceiving the Bills that will be presented for votes during the regular session, which runs from March to May. It is highly unlikely that the Legislature will leave a potentially multibillion-dollar industry in the hands of the DOH.

We'll Find Out Which Cities Allow MMTCs

Perhaps not every County, City, or Municipality in Florida will allow Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, or MMTCs, to open and operate within their jurisdiction. In 2017, we'll begin to find out which cities are going to be supportive of medical marijuana businesses. Some cities will be more restrictive and effectively try to "zone out" the placement of MMTCs. They will do so by preventing marijuana dispensaries from being located within a defined distance of certain places such as schools (almost certainly at least 1000 feet), churches, day cares, drug rehabs, and residences, to name a few. Other jurisdictions will develop friendlier rules and less stringent barriers to entry. Many Municipalities have issued moratoriums, or temporary bans, while the Department of Health implements regulations on how medical marijuana will be handled.

Physicians Will Go Through TrainingPicture of Medical Marijuana, Approved by Amendment 2 in Florida

Only some doctors can approve medical marijuana for a patient. The first qualification is that he or she must be licensed in the state of Florida. The second requirement is that the doctor must have a specific license in order to provide this certification to patients. The final challenge is that doctors are only allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient if they've treated that patient for a minimum of 90 days.

The DOH has provided a list of doctors who have been certified to issue medical marijuana. You can view the list on FloridaHealth.gov

The First ID Cards Will Be Issued

ID cards will be issued to caregivers. These ID cards will be issued by the Department of Health and they will designate the caregiver, who the marijuana is for, the number of patients a caregiver can help at one time, and the number of caregivers a patient may have. Patients will need a physician's certification to get a medical marijuana prescription, and in order to get this, the patient must have a full physical as well as an assessment of his medical history.

Insurance Companies Will Not Be Affected

Unfortunately, health insurance providers will not be required to reimburse marijuana-related expenses. For businesses, this is actually a big relief, because dealing with the insurance paperwork would be an exponential amount of work for you. For patients, however, this clearly makes medical marijuana a less accessible solution and may lead to some patients being unable to afford medical marijuana and having to accept pharmaceuticals that may be cheaper or covered by their insurance policies. It's unlikely that this will change in 2017 – however, it is up to MMTCs and the DOH to set the market for the product.

There are quite a few changes coming up for Floridians! Business owners and patients alike must pay attention as the regulations are built during this exciting time. Business owners: stay compliant and up-to-date with changing Florida regulations. Contact Feiler Marijuana Law at (305) 662-5663 for a consultation today.

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