Last November, Floridians joined the nation at large in their support of the legalization of medical marijuana, paving the way for the development of South Florida cannabis dispensaries to begin.
Gallup first polled Americans on their thoughts about marijuana in 1969, and only twelve percent supported legalization. Support grew in the 1970s to about a quarter of those polled, and the rate stuck there for about twenty years. Starting around the turn of the century, support grew again. Now it’s at an all-time high of 60%, according to Gallup’s most recent poll, taken in October 2016(1).
71.32 percent of Florida voters voted “Yes”(2), signifying an overwhelming passage of Amendment 2. However, some communities in South Florida have put up temporary bans on the development of any cannabis dispensaries within their town limits.
Why South Florida Cannabis Dispensaries are Different
Although Florida has been a leader in the South for legalizing medical marijuana, certain areas of South Florida have resisted. Some communities, like Fort Myers and Naples, have enacted temporary bans on dispensaries(3).
One reason might be the high proportion of seniors, especially in Southwest Florida, where many of the cannabis dispensary-banning towns are located. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, Americans born in 1935 or earlier have shown the least amount of support for the legalization of medical marijuana(1).
The People of Florida Have Spoken: Amendment 2
Nevertheless, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Amendment 2) passed with resounding support last Fall. The amendment legalized medical marijuana for individuals who have specific diseases or conditions which are debilitating, and whose cannabis treatment has been “approved” by a physician licensed in the State of Florida.
The specific diseases include(2):
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
The families of children with chronic, debilitating seizures, those who suffer the devastating effects of PTSD, MS, and cancer, and other medical marijuana patients may now legally seek the relief they need for their medical conditions.Those who suffer from PTSD, MS, cancer and seizures will be able to seek relief #medicalmarijuana… Click To Tweet
Now it is time for entrepreneurs and growers to form partnerships to serve this population in our region by developing a larger network of South Florida cannabis dispensaries.
Opponents Should Feel Reassured by Strict Provisions of Amendment 2
Amendment 2 also requires regulation of the production of marijuana, as well as regulation of all Florida cannabis dispensaries. The Florida Department of Health will manage an identification card system for patients and for caregivers who pick up the medicine for their loved ones or clients.
There are also provisions for regulating who qualifies as a caregiver and what standards they must uphold in order to be licensed to purchase cannabis products for those under their care. The proposed rules are restrictive, in order to satisfy a wider range of constituents, including the medical profession.
In addition, the Florida Department of Health has created regulatory direction and training guidelines for the dispensary workers themselves- adding to the already tightly-regulated environment under which South Florida cannabis dispensaries are run. Now that the voters of Florida have spoken, it is time for South Florida to step up and offer the medical choices people need.
1.Swift, Art. Support for Legal Marijuana Use Up in 60% in U.S. Gallup. Retrieved 2/26/2017 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/196550/support-legal-marijuana.aspx
2.Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2 (2016). Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2/26/2017 from https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016)
3.Gluck, Frank. Florida dispensaries aim to ‘normalize’ medical marijuana. News-Press. Retrieved 2/26/2017 from http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2017/01/06/florida-dispensaries-aim-normalize-medical-marijuana/95972560/