Marijuana Law Blog

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Group Pushing For New Marijuana Legalization Amendment in Florida

Attorney George F. Indest III Headshot By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

There is a new effort to legalize the use of marijuana in Florida and not just for medical purposes. Petitions will soon hit the streets for a proposed constitutional amendment that would completely legalize use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by Florida adults.

Getting the Measure on the November 2016 Ballot.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network, along with a committee called Floridians For Freedom, stated that it had received state approval to begin seeking signatures which would get their measure on the November 2016 ballot. This measure is distinct from a previous amendment led by Orlando Lawyer John Morgan, who wanted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes only.

Floridians For Freedom will have to gather about 67,000 valid signatures to get the effort to the next phase which is Florida Supreme Court review. Then the group will have to gather an additional 600,000 valid signatures to get it qualified for the ballot next fall. To visit their website, click here.

“Ending Prohibition” of Marijuana Under State Law.

According to Jodi James, chair of Floridians For Freedom and executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, all the commercial aspects of marijuana would be controlled by rules and regulations set by the Florida Legislature and Department of Commerce. “We want it to be legal. We want it to be regulated. We want it controlled. We want people to have safe access,” James said.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network currently has 20,000 members that it will call on to help collect valid signatures. To read one of our previous blogs on marijuana policy, click here.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on making marijuana completely legalized? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

Powers, Scott. “Group to push amendment that would completely legalize marijuana.” Orlando Sentinel. (September 2, 2015). Print.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legalize marijuana, Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, marijuana cultivation, Floridians For Freedom, Florida, Cannabis Action Network, commercial use of marijuana, Florida Legislature, Department of Commerce, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Canada to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in 2017: Spring Breakers to Go North Next Year

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 20, 2016, Canada’s Health Minister announced that the Canadian government will introduce a new law in the Spring of 2017 to legalize recreational marijuana and regulate sales. This law fulfills Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election pledge and follows the footsteps of several U.S. states that are attempting to decriminalize and permit easy access to the drug.

The Details.

Canada’s Health Minister Jane Philpott, who recently spoke at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and keep criminals from profiting from its sales. “We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures,” she said. “We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of them problem.”

Since many major Canadian cities are located within 100 miles of the U.S. border, Canada’s legalization could spur border states to enact their own legislation to prevent the exodus of tourism dollars.

Medical and Recreational Marijuana: Separate Issues.

The use of medical marijuana is a separate issue from recreational marijuana in Canada and is already legal. Canada’s medical marijuana growers say the rise in illegal marijuana dispensaries is costing them valuable customers and money.

Toronto’s former chief of police Bill Blair, has emphasized current laws banning marijuana remain in effect, but illegal dispensaries have multiplied since Justin Trudeau, who became prime minister after his Liberal Party came into power. To read more on his pledge to legalize and regulate marijuana, click here.

The Canadian government has not yet provided details on the production and distribution plans.

To read one of my prior blogs on the use of recreational marijuana, click here.

Spring Breakers To Go North?

In light of Canada’s marihoochee initiative, and the misplaced efforts of Florida vacation cities to ban alcohol, it may very well be that many spring breakers will decide to go north, instead of south next year. A recent article on Panama City Beach advised that its businesses have suffered their worst year in recent history, driven primarily by reduced revenues during spring break. This was allegedly caused by a strong crackdown on public alcohol consumption by anyone. Gee, who would have ever guessed that this might negatively affect tourism dollars and business income in a resort beach community? Click here to read the article in full.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:
Kovac, Adam. “Canada aims for pot legalization in 2017.” USA Today. (April 26, 2016). Web.

Freeman, Alan. “Canada to introduce legislation in 2017 to legalize the sale of maijuana.” The Washington Post. (April 20, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Marijuana legislation, decriminalization of marijuana, recreational marijuana legislation in Canada, regulating sales of marijuana, marijuana growers, marijuana distributors, Canada’s 2017 legislation to legalize marijuana, health care attorney, defense lawyer, health law defense attorney, medical marijuana, Florida medical cannabis, medical marijuana defense attorney, health law, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Don’t Get Burnt: Update Your Workplace Policies and Procedures to Include Medical Marijuana

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On June 16, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1030 (Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014) into law, making it legal for qualified Florida patients to take low-THC cannabis in liquid form. The specific medical marijuana is approved to treat certain medical conditions such as epilepsy, muscle spasms and cancer. Medical marijuana treatment may be available in Florida as soon as January 2015. Click here to read SB 1030.

A broader medical marijuana law, Amendment 2, will appear on Florida’s November ballot. If passed, Amendment 2 will legalize the growing, purchasing, possession and use of marijuana to treat medical conditions. Amendment 2 does not address how employers should treat employees who are qualified to use marijuana medically. The proposed law would not require employers to accommodate the on-site medical use of marijuana.

This discussion is one that needs to happen in the workplace. According to a Washington Post article, more than half of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Currently, seventeen states plus Washington, D.C., have eliminated jail time for possession. In fact, medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, plus the District of Columbia. Click here to read the entire Washington Post article.

Medical Marijuana Employment Laws Across the States.

In states that have already legalized medical marijuana, such as California, Montana, Washington and Oregon, the state supreme court has upheld an employer’s decision to terminate employees for their marijuana use outside the office. These individual courts held that medical marijuana laws only protect patients from criminal penalties and not from being fired by their employers.

It is slightly different in Colorado where marijuana is legal, regardless of medical use. Colorado’s state law prohibits the termination of employees for legal activities after work.

Florida’s current law and proposed Amendment 2 may also have effects on employee health insurance and workers’ compensation. New Mexico has a medical marijuana law similar to Amendment 2. A few weeks ago, an appellate court in New Mexico decided that marijuana is a medical expense covered under the state’s workers’ compensation system. The court required reimbursement to an employee for the cost of marijuana to treat chronic back pain caused by a workplace injury.

Tips for Creating a Workplace Medical Marijuana Policy.

Under federal law, the possession and use of any amount of marijuana is illegal. Federal law applies everywhere in the United States, including those states that permit recreational or medical use of marijuana. However, because of these new state laws, employees in states such as Colorado or Washington may think it’s perfectly acceptable to show up to work stoned.

Since it is most likely that marijuana will soon be available in Florida, it is in your best interest as an employer to revisit your company’s drug policies and procedures to include a section on marijuana.

Here are some things to consider when creating a marijuana policy:

1. Add consequences for the use of marijuana at work and shortly before work. Address the consequences of an employee showing up to work under the influence of marijuana. Be careful: certain states prohibit discharging, penalizing, or refusing to hire lawful medical marijuana users based upon a positive drug test for marijuana unless the employee used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana while on the employer’s premises or during work hours.

2. Don’t completely prohibit the use of marijuana at all times. In other words, don’t create a policy that prohibits employees from using marijuana when they are clocked out after work. Focus on regulating on-the-job conduct and employee performance.

3. Be sure to include marijuana in any drug-testing policy. However, keep in mind your state’s drug testing laws.

4. Make safety a priority. Your policies and procedures should ultimately center around workplace safety.

5. Be aware of how medical marijuana laws and employer actions may intertwine with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other non-discrimination laws.

Employers must balance their obligation to keep the workplace safe with the possibility of accommodating employees’ medical marijuana use.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on Florida’s Amendment 2? How are you handling medical marijuana policies and procedures in your office or practice? Please leave any thoughtful comments below

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm represents health care professionals, providers and facilities ready to update company policies and procedures to comply with Florida’s medial marijuana laws. Our attorneys routinely represent pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Leiby, Richard. “The Lonely Lot of the Anti-pot Crusader.” The Washington Post. (July 25, 2015). From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-lonely-lot-of-the-anti-pot-crusader/2014/07/22/7d0d490a-1036-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

Huhman, Heather. “Why Your Company Needs an Up-to-Date Marijuana Policy.” Entrepreneur. (July 30, 2014). From: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235999

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2017-08-22T18:38:15+00:00May 15th, 2018|Marijuana Law Blog|0 Comments

Shortage of Florida Physicians Approved to Recommend “Green Leaf Relief” for Patients

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Florida may be “going green” in a big way come November 2016; and I’m not talking about recycling.  The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Ballot Initiative Amendment 2, has undergone revisions, and will likely be making its second run with voters since its marginal loss in 2014.  Promoters of the Constitutional Amendment predict success; hopefully this isn’t just a pipe dream.

However, the Florida Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, currently allows low-THC cannabis to be utilized only by qualifying patients for certain medical ailments.  A licensed physician, as outlined in Chapter 458 or 459 of Florida Statutes, is required to qualify patients for the use of medical marijuana.

For FAQ’s on low-THC cannabis issued by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), click here.

Physician Requirements for Qualifying Patients and Ordering.

For a patient to qualify to obtain and use THC, a previously approved physician must examine and currently be treating a patient for a debilitating illness.  Such illnesses include cancer or any physical medical condition or ailment that produces chronic seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms (such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis).  Furthermore, the physician must have tried all other options of treatment without satisfactory results.  Medical marijuana must be a last resort alternative.  Section 381.986(2), Florida Statutes (2015).

One of the physician ordering requirements is that the doctor must “register as the orderer of low-THC cannabis for the named patient on the compassionate use registry maintained by the department [of health] and update the registry to reflect the contents of the order.”  Section 381.986(2)(c), Florida Statutes (2015).

In order to become registered in Florida, licensed physicians must successfully complete an 8-hour course, offered by either the Florida Medical Association (FMA) or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA).  It is necessary for the physician to satisfactorily pass an examination upon completion of the course.  Section 381.986(4), Florida Statutes (2015).

Currently, only 42 doctors varied throughout Florida in areas to include Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, have signed up for authorization.

Why the Lack of Physicians?

Several theories may account for the lack of physician involvement in the program in Florida.

One of the theories that may explain why physicians are hesitant to jump on board with this new-age line of treatment, is the lack of scientific research conducted in the United States to back the medical efficacy of medical marijuana.  Scientists are reluctant to answer even the most basic questions about the use of medical marijuana including the long-term risks, actual benefits and the overall effect of legalization.

Many physicians may be concerned that the use of medical marijuana is supported more by popular opinion than on actual medical research.

However, a primary reason for insignificant research may be due to the unavailability of the drug for scientific study due to its illegal status.  The federal government entirely restricts the authorization to use marijuana for medical research.  The media is replete with stories on this.  As the debate over marijuana and its legalization for medical use becomes more widespread and pertinent, the drug has concurrently become more available for research.

For more information on current medical marijuana research efforts as reported by U.S.A. Today, click here.

Who Will Dispense the Marijuana?

Another hold-up in support from physicians may be due to the fact that the Department of Health (DOH) is still in the process of selecting the five dispensing organizations throughout Florida that will be developing and dispensing the drug.

As originally proposed, this requires an arduous application process presently consisting of proposals from 24 competing companies.  A dispensing organization must have the ability to meet several requirements as set forth in the statues, including the financial ability to post a $5 million performance bond upon approval.  Section 381.986(5)(b), Florida Statutes (2015).

Many physicians are still waiting to know where the drugs will be dispensed, what the dosages will be, what forms they will be available in and how much they will cost.  These are all important factors to consider in determining whether or not medical marijuana may be beneficial to certain patients.

Penalties for Misuse.

A final reason for physician avoidance of marijuana is fear of criminal prosecution and discipline by their boards, given the lingering gray areas of the law.

To read one of our previous blogs regarding a federal judge’s challenge of the DOJ’s incorrect interpretation of federal law on medical marijuana prosecutions and a win for medical marijuana advocates across the nation, click here.

It is undisputed that the use of medical marijuana is on the rise.  Therefore, any licensed physician who is contemplating or has already signed up for the program, needs to be sure they are in strict compliance with Florida law.

A physician is committing a misdemeanor, which may result in criminal penalties, if he or she orders low-THC cannabis for a patient without possessing a reasonable belief that the patient is suffering from one of the debilitating medical conditions as described in Section 381.986(3)(a)(1) and (2), Florida Statutes.

It is one of the ongoing duties of the dispensing organizations established by the Department to “monitor physician registration and ordering of low-THC cannabis for ordering practices that could facilitate unlawful diversion or misuse of low-THC cannabis and take disciplinary action as indicated.”  Section 381.986(5)(b)(7)(c), Florida Statutes (2015).

Therefore, a physician interested in obtaining authorization to order medical marijuana for his or her patients, should contact an experienced health attorney as a safeguard to ensure he or she complies fully with the law.

Comments?

Why do you believe there is a lack of physician involvement in Florida in the medical marijuana program?  What are your thoughts on the availability of medical marijuana in Florida?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Sources:

Powers, Scott.  “Medical-pot backers unfazed only 42 doctors in program.”  Orlando Sentinel 20 August 2015: Final.  Print.

Caputo, Mark.  “Medical marijuana supporters unveil new proposal for 2016.”  Miami Herald.  8 January 2015.  Web.  27 August 2015.

Keywords: medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana attorney, low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, complaint against physician, Florida law, health attorney, doctor defense attorney Department of Health, Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, disciplinary action for prescribing, medical marijuana regulations, prescribing controlled substances, physicians recommending marijuana, health regulation lawyer, medical license defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, DEA defense lawyer, medical marijuana ordering physician, compassionate-use in Florida, physician certifications for medical marijuana, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

New Study Reveals Only One Long Term Effect From Smoking Marijuana

3 Indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

According to new research, long-term marijuana use may not be so bad for your health after all. A recent long-term study of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 has found that people who smoked marijuana for up to 20 years have more gum disease, but otherwise do not show worse physical health than non-smokers.

The researchers’ findings, published in the June issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, found that among the 38-year-olds surveyed, 55.6% of people who had smoked marijuana regularly for 15 or 20 years had gum disease, while only 13.5% of the 38-year-olds who had never used marijuana and don’t smoke cigarettes had the same disease.

To draw their comparisons among the participants, researchers assessed physical health issues like lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. They also study-controlled for factors like socioeconomic status as well as self-reported brushing and flossing habits, according to Live Science. Click here to read the article in full.

The Findings.

In general, the findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife. Across the several domains of health factored in, clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health. While cannabis users had poor periodontal health, in some cases they actually showed better health outcomes than non-smokers such as lower body mass indexes, smaller waists and better high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the good cholesterol. These results have led researchers to think that cannabis may have an impact on metabolism. Tobacco users in the study, were found to have gum disease as well as reduced lung function, systemic inflammation and indicators of poorer metabolic health.

“We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University and the lead author on the study, told Duke Today.

Study’s Authors Warn: These Results Don’t Give a Green Light to Smoke As Much As You Want.

While this study revealed that tobacco smokers may be worse off tobacco, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily smoke marijuana as much as you want. “We need to recognize that heavy recreational cannabis use does have some adverse consequences, but overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study,” Avshalom Caspi, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and a coauthor on the study, said in a statement, according to Live Science.

To learn more about the effects and potential benefits of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

More Medical Research Showing the Lack of Harm of Marijuana Use is Needed.

What this study shows is something that most of us who actually lived through the hippy movement of the Sixties already knew. Smoking marijuana is not harmful to you. Despite what marijuana opponents would like to be true, the evidence just does not support the harmfulness of marijuana. The problem is that with the lack of research studies because of federal restrictions, there is little published legitimate clinical research to actually prove the harmlessness of marijuana. This study goes far to show that fact. I would strongly encourage academic institutions to support such research and the federal government to stop its persecution of marijuana legalization and to support such research.

By comparison, those vices which are legal (alcohol and smoking be the two major ones), cause thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars of loss to our economy, directly attributable to their use. Not so for marijuana! If we could take fifty percent of the alcohol abusers and convert them to using marijuana, instead, think of the savings on alcohol-related diseases, loss of income, domestic strife, the requirement for rehabilitation and treatment, and other such consequences. There are no known or reported cases of someone dying from a marijuana overdose. By comparison, how many thousands of U.S. citizens have died of alcohol overdoses?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Berke, Jeremy. “A new study might have found one of the only long-term physical health risks linked to smoking marijuana.” Business Insider. (June 3, 2016). Web.

“Pot-Smokers Harm Gums; Other Physical Effects Slight.” Duke Today. (May 31, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Long-term effects of marijuana use, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, cannabis versus tobacco users, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

After Backlash, Office of Compassionate Use Rewrites Florida’s Medical Marijuana Rules

The Health Law Firm Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The devil is in the details. This is why state regulators went back to the drawing board to revamp the framework for Florida’s medical marijuana industry. On September 9, 2014, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) Office of Compassionate Use published a revised ruling governing everything medical marijuana: from stems and seeds to prescribing to patients. The latest version addresses issues regarding ownership rules on who can apply to be a medical marijuana dispenser in Florida.

Click here to read the updated bill.

The Office of Compassionate Use has until January 1, 2015, to come up with a finalized version of regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry.

Florida’s Current Law on Medical Marijuana.

On June 16, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 1030 (Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014) into law, making it legal for qualified Florida patients to take low-THC cannabis in liquid form. The specific medical marijuana is approved to treat certain medical conditions such as epilepsy, muscle spasms and cancer. The low-THC medical marijuana is expected to be ready in Florida by spring 2015.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Requirements and Changes.

Five dispensing organizations will be licensed to grow, process, and distribute the low-THC cannabis.

The law will require each dispensing organization to have a valid registration from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to cultivate more than 400,000 plants, be operated by a “nurseryman,” and have previously operated as a registered nursery in Florida for at least 30 continuous years. These rules were drafted in order to encourage nurseries that meet these criteria to become growers of medical marijuana and discourage non-nursery companies from buying into and controlling the industry for profits.

The previous proposed rule neglected to specifically address whether a nursery would be required to have a continued role in running a dispensary. Under the recent revisions, a nurseryman has to serve as an operator of a dispensary. The revised proposal requires a nursery to have at least 25 percent ownership of a dispensing organization licensed by the state. The rule also states that a nurseryman who owns 100 percent of his business could also be the sole owner of a dispensary.

The revisions require a 21-day notification period. Then a legislative committee must certify the new rules and the DOH will have to adopt them, which is another 20-day process. If all dates hold, the process will be done on November 4, 2014.

I query why such ridiculous requirements are even being proposed. Is it an attempt to award certain individuals by creating a monopoly in certain areas? Requiring patients to travel great distances to one of only five dispensaries in the state also seems to be an irrational requirement.

What About the Disputed Lottery?

The revised rule states that the Office of Compassionate Use decided to stick with the plan to use a lottery system to select dispensing organizations, which the state will eventually license. Health officials believe the process will minimize drawn-out litigation over contract awards that could delay getting medical marijuana to patients.

To read more on the revised rule, click here to read an article from Health News Florida.

Work in Progress.

With all the questions raised by the legislation, it is clear this framework for Florida’s medical marijuana industry is still a work in progress. There is still a lot of red tape to go through to get a functional business model approved for dispensing businesses. While state health officials sort out many lingering details, physicians and dispensaries alike are speculating and preparing for Florida’s medical marijuana industry. Don’t go the unknown road alone. It’s in your best interested to contact an attorney if you plan to have a hand in any part of Florida’s medical marijuana industry.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kam, Dara. “Regulators Take Another Shot at Pot Rule.” Health News Florida. (September 10, 2014). From: http://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/post/regulators-take-another-shot-pot-rule

Galka, Matt. “Revisions Being Made to Non-Euphoric Medical Marijuana Law.” News 4 Jax. (September 10, 2014). From: http://www.news4jax.com/news/revisions-being-made-to-noneuphoric-medical-marijuana-law/27987260

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Gets a Green Light on First Five Growers as Medical Marijuana Program Expands: Five Pot Growers Hit Jackpot

4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) awarded the state’s first licenses to five nurseries, allowing them to legally grow and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. The nurseries selected are Costa Nursery Farms in Miami, Alpha Foliage of Homestead, Knox Nursery of Winter Garden, Hackney Nursery Company in Tallahassee and Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua.

Compassionate Use in Florida.

With these licenses, the five nurseries are permitted to grow Charlotte’s Web, a liquid form of cannabis low in THC, the chemical that gives a euphoric feeling. It is intended to treat patients with epilepsy and advanced stages of cancer. For patients to qualify for the treatment, they must obtain permission from a qualified doctor and be added to the Compassionate Use Registry. Compassionate use is the experimental use of a medical product that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To read more about compassionate use and the registry from The DOH, click here.


Applicant Rules and Guidelines.

The five nurseries were selected out of a pool of 28 applicants with businesses in Florida for at least 30 years that grow a minimum of 400,000 plants. Each of the growers now have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond to prove they are serious about the license. Several nurseries that were selected have partnered with consultants, investors, security firms and out of state marijuana growers to help develop plans and secure the performance bond.

Expanding the Medical Marijuana Program.

Medical Marijuana is well on its way to Florida and these first five growers are just the beginning. A Florida House Panel recently approved House Bill 307, to expand the small medical marijuana program. Under this Bill, terminally ill patients can purchase marijuana from a licensed grower with approval from two doctors. Not only did the House Justice Subcommittee approve House Bill 307 by a 9-4 vote, they tacked on new language to increase the number of growers to 20. The bill passed its first hurdle and moves next to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. To find out more details on House Bill 307, click here.

To read further on Medical Marijuana legislation in Florida, read one of our past blogs here.

Serious Questions Regarding Monopolistic Actions.

I have some very serious questions as to whether or not the state is unfairly limiting the number of medical marijuana growers. Surely there is a need for more than five of them. This has got to be perceived as capricious and arbitrary by any court reviewing it.

If the proposed Florida constitutional amendment passes during the next election, as many predict it will, then such an artificial limitation on the number of growers may well be determined to violate the intent of the amendment. With all of the scrutiny being focused on state medical agencies by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for anti-competitive practices, the artificially low number of permitted growers is found to invite future litigation from pateints and from competing growers who were shut out of the market.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on the availability of medical marijuana in Florida? Do you agree with the expansion of the medical marijuana program? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Sources:

Auslen, Michael. “Florida medical marijuana plan expanded to 20 growers.” Bradenton Herald. 17 Nov. 2015. Web.

Klas, Mary Ellen. “Florida approves 5 nurseriers to grow medical marijuana.” Miami Herald. 24 Nov. 2015. Web.

Powers, Scott. “5 growers get state’s 1st pot license.” Orlando Sentinel. 24 Nov. 2015. Print.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana, medical marijuana growers, medical marijuana cultivation, medical marijuana license, Charlotte’s Web, House Bill 307, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana attorney, low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, Department of Health (DOH), Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, medical marijuana regulations, medical license defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

DEA Nixes Removing Marijuana From Its Highly Restricted Drug Classification

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 11, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) denied a petition to lessen federal restrictions on the use of marijuana for the fourth consecutive time. The DEA rejected petitions to remove marijuana from its most highly restricted classification of drugs, which includes heroin and ecstasy, but announced a new policy to support expanded research into the substance.

The Federal Status of Marijuana.

Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug would have made it easier to get federal approval for studies of its uses as well as for doctors to start writing prescriptions for medical marijuana-based treatments. Additionally, the current federal status of marijuana makes it impossible for state-legal marijuana businesses to take the same tax deductions afforded to other business. Federal restrictions also make banks reluctant to work with marijuana businesses, leading many of them to become all-cash operations — with all the risks that entails.

The acting head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenburg, stated that “it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse.”

Marijuana for Scientific Research.

In a proposal issued on the same day, the DEA said that it will allow universities and private companies to grow marijuana for scientific research. Despite this, the DEA says it cannot change the legal status of marijuana unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines it has a clear medical use. However, the FDA cannot determine it has a medical use in part because of the highly restrictive legal status of the drug. It’s a classic catch-22.

To read more on the status of medical marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Stop Perpetuating the Insanity.

Like Yosarian said in the novel Catch 22, a novel about the absurdities and contradictions inherent in large government bureaucracy: “That’s some catch, that ‘catch 22.’ ” And the DEA is helping to perpetuate it. It’s difficult to understand how states can be legalizing medical marijuana, authorizing doctors to write prescriptions for it and issuing licenses to medical marijuana growers, if the DEA keeps it on its Schedule 1. Yeah, it’s right up there with heroin and PCP, isn’t it? My question is why aren’t cigarettes and chewing tobacco on that schedule? Someone needs to wake up and smell the coffee (or the ganja smoke)!

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Ingraham, Christopher. “Why the DEA just said ‘no’ to loosening marijuana restrictions.” The Washington Post. (August 16, 2016). Web.

Saint Thomas, Catherine. “DEA keeps marijuana on the dangerous list of drugs.” The New York Times. (August 16, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, marijuana for scientific research, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) administrative actions, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) defense attorney, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legal counsel, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defense attorney, medical marijuana attorneys, marijuana growers attorney, Charlotte’s Webb, The Health Law Firm Reviews, legal representation for medical marijuana growers, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm Attorney Reviews, Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO attorney, Nurses Service Organization (NSO) defense attorney, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Credit Union in Colorado Granted Charter: Will Serve the Marijuana Industry

4 Indest-2009-3By: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law and Shelby Root

Marijuana businesses are flourishing in the four states that it is legal, including D.C., but are still finding it difficult to operate without access to a traditional banking system. In Denver, Colorado, that may all change if the credit union can get approval from the Federal Reserve. The Fourth Corner Credit Union was created to serve the marijuana industry, by creating a bank focused on offering a solution to the massive cash flow that these businesses bring to Colorado. The credit union was granted a charter on November 19, 2014, by Colorado’s banking regulators. However, it is still waiting for a master account number from the Federal Reserve to gain access to the country’s electronic banking system. Until it is granted that, Fourth Corner will remain empty with a “Coming Soon” banner above the front door.


The Fourth Corner Credit Union’s Business Model.

The Fourth Corner Credit Union will accept cash deposits and allow customers to make electronic transfers for payroll and rent, and to purchase supplies. To comply with state and federal rules, Fourth Corner will largely limit its operations to Colorado. Transactions will be approved by bankers who are keeping a close eye on where the money is transferring to ensure it is going towards the business and not redirected to cartels or gangs.

Any business or person with an interest in the marijuana industry will be eligible to join Fourth Corner, which organizers say will look like any other credit union.


The Difficulty in Running a Business without a Traditional Banking System.

The marijuana industry is popular in the states it is legal. Colorado has nearly 800 recreational marijuana shops, which brought in $38 million during February 2015. Without the use of a banking system businesses are unable to take credit cards, debit cards and checks. Thus, dealing in cash is the only way to operate the business. Handling enormous amounts of cash is not a small task, it is time-consuming, dangerous and costly. The owners are left to store cash in safes, tote in bags or boxes to the tax office and utility company, hand out in bundles on payday, and move it by armored vehicles and armed guards.


A Potential Reason for the Delay.

There is not a case of a state accredited financial institution being denied a master account. Usually, approval will come within weeks, but it has been nearly seven months and still no answer. Mark Mason, an attorney advising the credit unions’s founders, has a suggestion for a reason why the Federal Reserve may be wary of granting the account number. He believes that this will “legitimize the marijuana industry to the extent it’s never been.”


Blog Editor’s Comments:

One of the biggest legal problems that exist in states that have legalized marijuana is how to handle the money that is generated. Without access to federally regulated banks (which won’t touch such proceeds), it is difficult to pay taxes, purchase supplies, pay employees or run the business. This is a step in the right direction to remedy this problem.


Comments?

What are your thoughts on a credit union focused on the marijuana industry? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Sources:

Hughes, Trevor. “Colorado OKs Marijuana Credit Union.” USA Today. (December 8, 2014). From:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/08/colorado-oks-marijuana-credit-union/20056367/

Fox31 Denver. “Pot Problem: Banks Still Don’t Want This Cash.” (April 14, 2015). From:

http://kdvr.com/2015/04/14/pot-problem-banks-still-dont-want-this-cash/

Richtel, Matt. “The First Bank of Bud Marijuana Industry in Colorado, Eager for Its Own Bank, Waits on the Fed.” The New York Times. (February 5, 2015). From:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/business/marijuana-industry-in-colorado-eager-for-its-own-bank-waits-on-the-fed.html?_r=0


About the Authors:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. Shelby Root is a summer associate at The Health Law Firm. She is a student at Barry University College of Law in Orlando.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Harvests It’s First Legal Medical Marijuana Crop

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On July 18, 2016, Florida harvested it’s first legal marijuana crop. The new crop is being stored in multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the outskirts of Tallahassee. The harvest is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing, and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards. It is unknown which security company, if any, is providing security or if it approaches the security of Fort Knox.

This is one of two production facilities operated by Surterra Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.

Charlotte’s Web.

In 2014, Florida adopted laws to allow two types of medical marijuana: non-euphoric strains, such as “Charlotte’s Web,” that is thought to help control seizures and ease symptoms of certain other medical conditions; and full-strength marijuana to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms for patients considered terminally ill. Since Surterra won approval to harvest last month, Florida has allowed four other companies to do the same: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County, Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County, Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade County, and Knox Nursery in Orange County.

These grow farms are poised to expand considerably if the required 60 percent of voters in November cast “Yes” ballots for Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, which would legalize full-strength marijuana for an estimated 450,000 Floridians with debilitating illnesses.

To read one of my prior blogs on medical marijuana in Florida, click here.

Vote Yes for Amendment 2.

It is my opinion that the legalization of marijuana, especially for the treatment of sick children, is many decades overdue. Parents should not have to face the Hobson’s choice of breaking the law or obtaining relief for their sick child. For a herbal medication which has proven to have infinitely less adverse consequences than either alcohol or tobacco, this should be a “no brainer.”

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

“Florida’s first medical marijuana crop cut up, stored.” Associated Press. (July 18, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, Charlotte’s Webb, medical marijuana use for terminally ill patients, legal representation for medical marijuana, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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