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“Right to Try” Florida Marijuana Law Amendment

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Cannabis Mostly Illegal Under Florida Marijuana Law

Under the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, Florida marijuana law states that cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance and, as such, criminal penalties ranging from first degree misdemeanors to second degree felonies apply to the unlawful possession, use, sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, transport, or trafficking of marijuana in Florida. Currently, the only statutorily allowed use of cannabis in this state is set forth in the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (detailed here), which authorizes dispensing organizations approved by the Department of Health to manufacture, possess, sell, and dispense low-THC cannabis for medical use by patients suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms. We have already written several articles on the low-THC law and its delayed implementation here because of concerns over who will get the five dispensary licenses under this new law.  However, the Department of Health is currently expected to award these five dispensary licenses by the end of the year (although challenges by losing dispensary applicants will likely delay implementation of the low-THC law into next year).  (Update: The 5 Florida dispensaries have been awarded licenses and are currently seeking permission to begin cultivation for sale later this year, perhaps in July or September.) For a recent article on the low-THC law, click here.

Last Year’s “Right to Try” Act

In 2015, the Legislature adopted the Right to Try Act. This law allows terminally-ill patients, defined as any patient who is expected to die within one year if the condition runs its normal course, to receive an “investigational drug, biological product, or device,” that has not yet been approved by the FDA. The Right to Try Act was passed to let very-ill folks try investigational drugs without getting into trouble with the law.

The “Right to Try” Act Would Be Expanded To Include Marijuana

However, under new legislative bills moving in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate, the definition of “investigational drug, biological product, or device” set forth in the Right to Try Act would be amended  to include cannabis that is manufactured and sold by one of 20 dispensing organizations that must be approved by the Florida Department Of Health under the bill. The bill further specifies that, notwithstanding the state’s laws criminalizing the non-medical use of cannabis, eligible patients under the Right to Try Act or their legal representatives may purchase and possess cannabis for the patient’s medical use and dispensing organizations may manufacture, possess, sell, deliver, distribute, dispense, and lawfully dispose of cannabis. This would mean that terminally-ill patients could legally use marijuana to help treat their diseases or ease their pain. Copies of these bills can be found here and here.

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