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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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Medical marijuana is legal in Florida -- what does this mean for you?

On Jan. 3, Amendment 2 went into effect in Florida. Essentially, this new law expands the medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. However, rules and regulations for full implementation of the amendment are still months away. The state has six months to come up with the rules and nine months to implement them.

3 things to know about Amendment 2

1. Only patients with the following diseases qualify:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Parkinson's disease

2. Doctors must go through eight hours of training and take an exam to approve patients for medical cannabis. You can access a list of doctors with this training through the Florida Health website. You must be treated by a doctor trained in dispensing medical cannabis for at least 90 days before it can be ordered for you.

3. A second opinion will be required before you can apply for medical cannabis. You must also look into all other treatments for your condition.

It is not a free-for-all

You can get medical cannabis only through companies that have been approved by the state. Six organizations have this permission, and as the number of patients increases, more licenses will be approved. Currently, the Department of Health is looking at limiting the number of patients one doctor can treat with medical cannabis.

Some cities and counties are placing zoning moratoriums on dispensaries. These clinics will need to be regulated, much like pain clinics, which cannot be placed near day care centers or schools. Every grower and distributor of medical marijuana will be approved by the state.

More than 70 percent of Floridians voted for Amendment 2, but it may take many months before patients who need medical cannabis can qualify and find the drug. The industry is poised for growth, but there are still opponents who want to fight the legislation. Approving marijuana for recreational use as voters did in Colorado is still a long way off. The first steps are to help patients who need the drug for medical use. Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, banks are still cautious about doing business with companies that sell the drug, and federal employees are banned from using it.

There are a lot of legal hurdles to get through before marijuana can become legal. In Florida, this substance is strictly regulated. If you need legal assistance, make sure to find a lawyer who knows the laws about marijuana.

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