Advocates push for further medical marijuana legalization in Florida

An amendment proposed to give medical marijuana access to more patients will hit the ballot in Florida this November.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Washington, D.C., and 23 states have passed legislation permitting the use of medical marijuana. Despite some small steps forward, most patients in Florida are still prohibited from marijuana use.

That could change after voters hit the polls this November. An amendment to the state's constitution would allow certain patients to find relief from medicinal marijuana, granting access for those who need it most.

Current law

As the Marijuana Policy Project points out, a number of municipalities and counties across Florida have already begun decriminalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. For example, in these areas, possession of small amounts of the substance could result in merely a civil fine as opposed to a more serious sentence.

When it comes to medical marijuana, the state legalized low-THC strains for certain patients in 2014. It then allowed for stronger marijuana use for patients who were only expected to live another year when it passed a measure last year.

The amendment

The Sun Sentinel reports that this year's amendment would offer medical marijuana use to people who have one of the following conditions:

  • HIV or AIDS
  • Cancer or epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Crohn's disease or Parkinson's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, or multiple sclerosis

The amendment also notes that people with conditions like those listed above would be eligible for using marijuana to treat their symptoms.

Past measures

According to the Sun Sentinel, a similar amendment was on the ballot in 2014. At that time, opponents garnered the support of the Florida Sheriffs Association and were able to defeat the measure. However, the association has not yet voiced an opinion this year. Additionally, the Flagler County sheriff, whose mother has personal experience with chemotherapy, has already offered his support of the amendment.

New this year

One of the differences between the 2016 amendment and the 2014 legislation is that the new piece it limits a caregiver in regards to how many people he or she can provide marijuana. The measure also requires a doctor to get a parent's approval when a minor patient is involved. The new amendment also addresses who will be permitted to grow the marijuana.

Even if the measure passes, advocates still face opposition. The Sun Sentinel reports that several cities in Florida have put moratoriums or zoning laws in place that will prohibit dispensaries from launching in those areas.

Understanding marijuana laws is imperative for anyone who uses the substance, either medicinally or recreationally. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Florida.