Questions and Answers

On January 27, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s claim that the “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions” ballot title (which was crafted by the initiative’s supporters) was deceptive and that the measure violated the state’s single subject law. This 4-3 decision was issued on the heels of the Florida Secretary of State office’s announcement that the campaign had turned in more than enough valid signatures. The “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions” question will now be put to the voters in Florida in November’s election. Below is a summary of the proposed constitutional amendment.

How can I vote on this question?

The question will be put to the voters in Florida on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. In order to vote, you must be properly registered. Please visit the Florida Secretary of State’s website for information on voter registration. Please be sure to properly register as every vote matters. Since this initiative will amend the state’s constitution, it requires 60% of voters to vote “yes” in order to pass.

Who would qualify for the program?

Individuals who suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other medical conditions that their physicians find to be debilitating. Patients would only qualify for the program if their physicians also determine that marijuana’s potential benefits outweigh the potential harms.

How would a patient qualify?

A patient must have a physician certification in order to qualify. This certification must be signed by the patient’s physician and state that the benefits of marijuana use outweigh the risks. Additionally, the physician must note how long he or she recommends the patient use marijuana. Patients would then submit their physician certifications to the Department of Health, which would issue patients identification cards. If a patient has declared a caregiver, that individual would also receive an identification card from the department.

What protections would patients have once qualified?

Registered patients would not be subject to criminal or civil sanctions under Florida law for their medical use of marijuana. Medical marijuana patients could still be criminally liable for driving while under the influence of marijuana.

How much marijuana are patients allowed to possess?

The initiative charges the Department of Health with determining “the amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply” for individual patient needs. The presumptive limit determined by the department could be overcome with evidence that a particular patient’s condition requires him or her to use more marijuana than the limit allows.

Can patients grow their own medicine?

No, only state-regulated medical marijuana treatment centers would be allowed to cultivate medical marijuana.

What’s a medical marijuana treatment center?

Medical marijuana treatment centers ensure that patients have safe access to their medical marijuana. They would be allowed to cultivate and sell medical marijuana to qualifying patients.

Can qualified patients have a caregiver pick up their medicine for them?

Yes. Qualified patients may designate an individual 21 or older as their personal caregiver. Caregivers could assist up to five patients, with limited exceptions. Caregivers would be prohibited from consuming medical marijuana.

How will medical marijuana treatment centers operate?

The “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions” charges the Department of Health with drafting rules for the operation of medical marijuana treatment centers. These rules must be finalized no later than six months after passage of the law.

If it passes, can the legislature modify the new law?

The legislature is allowed to enact laws consistent with the medical marijuana question. For instance, it could pass a law recognizing PTSD as debilitating, but it could not pass a law repealing the medical marijuana program in part or in whole.

Will my insurance cover the cost of medical marijuana?

Nothing in the language requires insurance providers to reimburse qualified patients for their medical use of marijuana.

Can I use medical marijuana at work?

The legislation does not require workplaces to accommodate the medical use of marijuana, but it does not prevent them from doing so either, so it would be up to the individual employer.

Would Florida recognize patients from other states?

Unfortunately, no. In order to qualify for protections, an individual must have a Florida medical marijuana card. Additionally, only physicians licensed in Florida may write medical marijuana certifications.