A Big Win for Florida Medicinal Cannabis

This week, the Florida House sent a bill to Governor DeSantis’ desk, finally allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana. The will of the voters was heard and acted upon!

Thank you to all of the advocates and elected representatives who took the time to listen to patients and physicians who realize that the smoking ban was impeding on patients’ rights. Smoking cannabis has numerous benefits for a variety of patients, and should not be limited by an archaic bias against marijuana.

In addition, patients may now purchase every 35 days up to 2.5 ounces of whole flower cannabis. Another huge victory for Florida residents battling debilitating health issues such as cancer, chronic pain, PTSD, ALS, and Fibromyalgia.

We look forward to assisting out clients with this change in the law.

Growing Your Cannabis Business in a Regulatory Firestorm

Until cannabis is legalized at the federal level, companies working with marijuana-based products will continue to face regulatory burdens that make conducting business rather difficult. Every week, I hear of a new hurdle for patients and companies, these roadblocks leave cannabis businesses at risk for regulatory action.

A strong business strategy for those producing, selling, promoting, and providing cannabis, whether it is recreational or medicinal, is to get involved with state legislators who are creating business guidelines. Far too often, companies wait until proposed rules are up for a vote to get involved. This leads not only to a significant amount of stress and last minute scrambling, but the fall out from burdensome regulations can kill cannabis businesses all together. If your company doesn’t have someone paying attention to your state’s legislative and administrative actions of cannabis regulation, you have a major problem.

It is important to protect your intellectual property, have properly executed contracts, put plans in place to protect patient data, and form a solid business plan. However, this means little if these contracts, agreements, and plans are not being reviewed by an attorney who understands the complexities of state regulatory actions and legislation on the horizon. Your business should be able to adapt to the ever evolving world of cannabis, and so should your legal counsel.

Navigating the Complex Regulatory Environment of Medical Marijuana in Florida

As states continue to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, businesses, patients, and law makers are left to determine the ins and outs of state based legalization. Congress has begun to show interest in tackling this issue at the federal level with legislation such as the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, and the Senate Farm Bill. However, nothing has been signed into law, so we are relying on memos and DEA Internal Directives to guide stakeholders on regulatory activities.

The State of Florida has legalized medicinal cannabis for patients that suffer from a variety of conditions and illnesses. However, not all patients who qualify for a medical marijuana card are obtaining them, some are looking at CBD and hemp products to help treat their ailments. The regulatory environment for marijuana and hemp based products is complicated, so having someone to help you wade through state and federal law is important.

Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, but enforcement of the regulations guiding Florida marijuana companies will likely come from state agencies. In December 2017, the state of Colorado shut down 26 legal pot businesses for violating the selling limits for customers. At the beginning of 2018, California warned almost 500 businesses that their marijuana operations were illegal.

Physicians who can issue patients a prescription for medical marijuana must successfully complete a 2-hour course and subsequent examination offered by the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. An important provision in Florida’s medical marijuana law states that a qualified physician may not be employed by, or have any direct or indirect economic interest in, a medical marijuana treatment center or marijuana testing laboratory (FL Statute 381.986 (3)(b)). Statute 381.986 (3)(b) has the potential to create a regulatory nightmare for physicians and physician groups who are in violation of the law.

In addition to physicians having rigorous regulatory guidelines, Marijuana Treatment Centers have extremely specific policies to abide by. Failure to regularly audit and monitor compliance with state regulations will leave your business open to enforcement actions. The regulations permit a statewide maximum of 25 dispensing facilities, with an increase of 5 more facilities per 100,000 registered patients.  There are also regional requirements that Marijuana Treatment Centers must adhere to. Groups may sell their dispensary slots and there are reporting guidelines that companies must follow. It is critical to have legal counsel review all contracts before engaging in the sale of a dispensary slot, and the proper compliance systems in place to accurately report the transaction.

The cultivation of medicinal cannabis to the sale of products to patients requires the use of a seed to sale tracking system that will eventually will be established and maintained by the state. Florida law also details strict rules involving the cultivation of medical marijuana and contracting with third parties for various business needs, such as lease agreements, hiring employees, transfer of ownership, security equipment, etc.

The most important action businesses in the medical marijuana industry can take is creating a solid compliance plan that will regulate all aspects of the business. Our firm is able to provide cost-effective plans to help facilitate the proper systems to abide by Florida law and ensure that employees are following the guidelines.

If you need assistance with Florida regulatory issues related to medical marijuana, contact Candace Lerman, Esq. , Of Counsel to the Lerman Law Firm, for assistance via email: Candace@lermanfirm.com or Cathy Lerman via email at clerman@lermanfirm.com..