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Florida Senate Bill 852 Would Provide For Greater Access To Florida Medical Marijuana

Senator Jeff Brandes has filed Senate Bill 852 entitled the “Florida Medical Marijuana Act” with the Florida Senate this week. The legislation will allow qualified patients with a range of conditions or symptoms to access medical marijuana in Florida, if recommended by their physician. The bill would also establish a robust and free market regulatory approach to the governance, cultivation, processing, and retail sale of medical marijuana in Florida. According to Senator Brandes, “this legislation recognizes the growing support in Florida for the medical use of marijuana as an additional option for physicians in the treatment of their patients.” The legislation would allow a patient with either a specified medical condition or a specified symptom to use medical marijuana as recommended by their physician. The Bill also licenses cultivation, processing, and retail facilities and fully replaces the existing low-THC Florida law (that we discussed on another page here). The legislation will also establish rigorous requirements for the medical marijuana distribution system, including product tracking and independent laboratory testing.

The Florida Medical Marijuana Act Would Provide For Expansive Sale And Use of Florida Medical Marijuana

More specifically, newly-proposed Senate Bill 852 does the following:

– Authorizes a registered patient or a designated caregiver to purchase a fire and possess up to the allowed amount of medical      marijuana for a patients medical use

– Requires a registered patient or a designated caregiver to demonstrate certain actions in order to maintain to specified legal protections

– Authorizing a cultivation license, processing license, and cultivation and processing licensee and an employee or contractor such licensee to take specified actions

– Authorizes a retail licensee or an employee of a retail licensee to take specified actions

– Authorizes a license independent testing laboratory and an employee of an independent testing laboratory to receive and process marijuana for the sole purpose of testing the marijuana for certification as medical marijuana

– Provides that specified actions are not authorized

– Provides that a person is not exempt from the prohibition against driving under the influence of cannabis

– Provides that all provisions of Part Two of Chapter 386 for the statutes, other than Section 386.2045, apply to the smoking of medical marijuana

– Provides that medical marijuana may be smoked in a private residence only in certain circumstances

– Requires a qualified patient to submit specified information to the Department of Health in order to register for a medical marijuana patient registry identification card

– Requires a physician to submit to the Department a patient certification form with specified information before registration for an issuance of the card to the qualified patient

– Authorizes the physician to submit the patient certification form electronically through the department’s website

– Authorizes a qualified patient to designate a caregiver at specified times to assist him or her with the medical use of medical marijuana

– Requires the designated caregiver to meet specified qualifications

– Prohibits a designated caregiver from registering to assist more than one patient at any given time unless specified circumstances are met

– Requires the department to notify the qualified patient as a designated caregiver’s registration is denied

– Requires the department to create a patient and caregiver registration form and a patient certification form and make those forms available to the public by a specified date

– Requires a registration form to allow the patients to include specified information

– Requires the department to create and make available to the public a specified training course by a specified date

– Requires the department to enter the information for the qualified patient or his or her designated caregiver into the medical marijuana patient registry and to issue a medical marijuana patient registry identification card to the patient and the designated caregiver after the receipt of specified documents

– Requires that medical marijuana registry identification cards be resistant to counterfeiting and include specified information

– Provides that patients and designated caregiver registration and medical marijuana patient registry identification cards expire one year after the date of issuance

Requires a qualified patient to submit proof of continued residency and acquisition to certified specified information in order to renew a registration or medical marijuana patient registry identification card

-Requires a second physician to submit a patient certification form to the department in certain circumstances

– Requiring the department to notify specified persons of a change in registration status in specified circumstances

– Requiring the department to give notice within a specified time frame to the registered patient and the designated caregiver before removing the patient or designated caregiver from the medical marijuana patient registry

– Requires the registered or designated caregiver to return specified items within a specified time frame after receiving this notification

– Requiring a retail facility to notify the department upon the receipt of such items

– Authorizing a retail facility to notify the department electronically

– Requires the next of kin of a patient or designated caregiver to return the identification card of the patient or designated caregiver the retail facility after his or her death

– Requires the retail facility to update the medical marijuana patient registry and notify the department after the return of the identification card

– Authorizes retail facility to notify the department electronically

– Requires the department to compare all registered patients and designated caregivers in the medical marijuana patient registry with the records of death on file on the electronic death registration system and to adjust the file of the patient or designated caregiver accordingly

– Requires the department to notify law enforcement of the expired or cancelled identification card in certain circumstances

– Requires that the department create a secure online electronic medical marijuana patient registry containing a file and specified information regarding each registered patient, designated caregiver, and certifying physicians

– Requires that the medical marijuana patient registry has specified capabilities

– Requires the department to establish operating standards for the cultivation, processing, packaging, and labeling of marijuana by a specified date

– Requires the department to develop licensure application forms for specified licenses and to make such forms available to the public by a specified date

– Requires the department to establish procedures and requirements for specified licenses or renewals by a specified date

 

Florida Medical Marijuana Law Likely To Expand In Some Manner

Senator Brandes’ aim with this legislation is to “build on the best practices of the 23 other states that have legalized medical marijuana. The Bill, according to a statement by Senator Brandes, creates a responsible regulatory framework, offers patients with debilitating conditions access to this course of treatment, and it focuses funding on valuable medical research.” For the full text of the statement, click here.

For a text of the entire proposed Senate Bill 852, click here. Senate bill 852 is the most expensive bill proposed with respect to making medical marijuana available to citizens of Florida. It is currently too early to tell whether Senate Bill 852 on Florida medical marijuana will gain significant traction in the upcoming Florida legislative session set to begin in early January, 2016, but we will keep you posted on any and all developments. Regardless, it is a telling sign that much broader Florida medical marijuana bills are now being proposed for passage by the Florida legislature because more Floridians view the use of medical marijuana in Florida more positively.

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