Florida’s Push to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has rapidly become a hot debate topic across the country in the past few years. Proponents see the benefits of using marijuana as a way to help treat certain ailments, while critics instead look to the potential for abuse and addiction and the harmful health effects that smoking marijuana may have for individuals.

So far, 23 states and Washington D.C. have passed some sort of legislation legalizing the use and possession of medical marijuana. Florida recently approved legislation that would allow limited access to low-THC marijuana for certain individuals. But a measure is currently on the ballot for the November elections that would expand access to it in the state.

Status of Medical Marijuana Legalization in Florida 

Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 that allows certain individuals access to a low-THC form of the drug. The form of the drug is called Charlotte’s Web, and is actually an oil extract that the patient places under his or her tongue. It does not produce a high.

It allows access to the drug for individuals who have epilepsy, cancer, or another “condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms,” according to the bill’s text. Patients who intend on using medical marijuana do not need to possess an ID card, although their name must be present on a registry.

Referendum Would Expand Access to Medical Marijuana 

This November, Florida residents will vote on a referendum that would provide greater access to the drug for people with other medical conditions. This includes those with the following ailments. 

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV & AIDS
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease

 

It goes on to state that physicians could prescribe the drug for “other conditions for which [he or she] believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

The measure is listed as Amendment 2 on the November ballot. A vote in favor of the referendum would expand medical marijuana availability for more patients, while a vote against the referendum would not expand access.

Will the new referendum pass? 

It’s obviously impossible to know the fate of any issue up for election this fall. But polls indicate that the medical marijuana referendum has a good chance to pass. A July article in the Huffington Post, citing a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, posits that 88 percent of residents support the legalization of medical marijuana, and that as many as 95 percent of residents 29 and under are in favor.

Meanwhile, the same poll found that a small majority (55 percent) of Florida adults support legalizing a small amount of marijuana for personal use, also known as recreational marijuana.

Will the legalization of medical marijuana affect tort claims in Florida?

While the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes might be legal in the near future, it would not permit operation of a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, or any other drug that causes impairment for that matter.

So if you become involved in a car accident with a driver who was legally using marijuana and was impaired, that person may still be liable for any damages. This is similar to being involved in a driver impaired by alcohol use.

In the event of an accident, contact a personal injury attorney to review your rights and the requirements to prove fault and damages. If you were seriously injured, feel free to reach out to Chalik & Chalik at 855-529-0269 or use our contact page to set up a consultation.