Florida’s Department of Health recently selected the five regional nurseries to cultivate, process, and dispense medical cannabis under the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” (also known as “Charlotte’s Web”), thereby bringing Florida’s medical marijuana law one step closer to implementation. Hackney Nursery Company was selected for the Northwest Region, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, LLC was selected for the Northeast Region, Knox Nursery, Inc. was selected for the Central Region, Alpha Foliage, Inc. was selected for the Southwest Region, and Costa Nursery Farms, LLC was selected for the Southeast Region.  To commence operations, these nurseries must request cultivation authority within 75 days of receiving their selection notification and begin cultivation within 210 days of receiving such authority.

The foregoing timeline suggests that full implementation of Charlotte’s Web will commence shortly prior to the November, 2016 election. Today the Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the validity of a new constitutional amendment proposed for inclusion on the November, 2016 ballot.  A similar constitutional amendment initiative, called the “Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative,” and commonly known as “Amendment 2,” narrowly failed to reach the 60% vote required for passage during the November, 2014 election.  Amendment 2 would have permitted physicians to prescribe forms of marijuana not allowed by Charlotte’s Web, including forms with higher levels of THC, in connection with the treatment of a wider range of medical conditions than Charlotte’s Web allows.  With that experience from 2014 in mind, proponents of the proposed 2016 amendment have drafted it to account for the criticisms lodged against Amendment 2.  If the proposed 2016 amendment appears on the November, 2016 ballot and passes, many wonder the extent to which patients will seek their medical cannabis under Charlotte’s Web.  Some believe that Charlotte’s Web’s restrictions will render it obsolete if pitted against a broad constitutional amendment.  Only time will tell.