Overview of the Amendment

Amendment 2 will be on the November 4, 2014 election ballot, which if approved by the Florida voters, legalizes a broader use and possession of medical marijuana than the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 commonly referred to as "Charlotte's Web." 

Physicians will issue physician certifications to patients who qualify for use of medical marijuana.  The patient must have a debilitating medical condition.  Patients will receive the medical marijuana from a medical marijuana treatment center, registered with the Florida Department of Health or its successor agency ("DOH"), that grows and dispenses the medical marijuana.  Patients can administer the medical marijuana himself/herself or with the assistance of a personal caregiver.

Below is a summary of the key defined terms and provisions in the amendment.

  • Physicians who are licensed in Florida will issue physician certifications to qualifying patients to receive medical marijuana. 
    • A written document signed by a physician, stating that in the physician's professional opinion, the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, the potential benefits of the medical-marijuana use outweigh the health risks for the patient, and the duration the physician recommends its use.
    • A physician must first conduct a physical examination on the patient and a full assessment of the patient's medical history.  
  • Qualifying patient defined. A person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition, who has a physician certification and a valid qualifying patient identification card.  
  • Debilitating medical condition defined. Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes medical marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.  
  • Personal caregiver defined. A person at least 21 years of age who has agreed to assist a qualifying patient use medical marijuana and who has a caregiver identification card issued by the DOH. A personal caregiver can only assist five qualifying patients at one time. However, an employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility, with the permission from the DOH, can serve more than five qualifying patients at one time.  
  • Medical marijuana treatment center defined. An entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies or educational materials to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers and is registered by the DOH.  
  • Exemption from criminal and civil liability. Qualifying patients, personal caregivers, licensed Florida physicians and medical marijuana treatment centers are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.  
  • Limitations stated in the amendment.
    • Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Florida.
    • Medical marijuana can only be used by qualifying patients.
    • Operation of a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft while the influence of marijuana is illegal.
    • Immunity is not granted under federal law, i.e., the Controlled Substance Act that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no approved medical uses.
    • Places of education, employment and public places are not required to make any accommodation for on-site medical use of marijuana.  
  • Permissible under the amendment.
    • Smoking marijuana.
    • Obtaining a euphoric high  
  • DOH duties.
    • Implement regulations within six months after its effective date to regulate the following:
      • Issuance of qualifying patient identification cards and standards for their renewal.
      • Issuance of personal caregiver identification cards who assist qualifying patients and standards for their renewal.
      • Registration of medical marijuana treatment centers, including, issuance, renewal, suspension, and revocation of registration, and standards to ensure security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection and safety.
      • Legal, defined amount of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be an adequate supply for qualifying patients' medical use, based on the best possible evidence.
    • Issue identification cards and registrations for medical marijuana treatment centers no later than nine months after its effective date.  
  • Confidential records. The DOH must keep qualifying patient records confidential and kept from public disclosure, other than for valid medical or law-enforcement purposes.

Implications/Issues

  • Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana for medical use. The Federal Controlled Substances Act lists, marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol as schedule 1 controlled substances with no accepted medical uses.  Amendment 2 protects physicians, patients, personal caregivers and medical marijuana treatment centers from state civil and criminal prosecution; however, these individuals and entities are subject to prosecution under federal law.  
  • Prescription issuance versus physician certifications; physician licenses. Whether physicians will be issuing prescriptions for medical marijuana.
    • Physicians who prescribe narcotics must register with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, and if a physician prescribes a schedule 1 drug like marijuana, a narcotic with a high potential for abuse under the Federal Controlled Substances Act with no approved medical uses, the physician could lose his/her registration and could no longer prescribe drugs, and even lose his/her medical license.  
  • Additional considerations:
    • No age limit for qualifying patients.
    • Qualifying patients are not required to be a resident of Florida.
    • No training/education for personal caregivers or physicians.
    • Physicians not limited to individuals licensed under Florida Statutes, Chapters 458 and 459 as in Charlotte's Web.
    • Does not limit the number of medical marijuana treatment centers as in Charlotte's Web.
    • Patient health insurance coverage, Medicaid, Medicare for medical marijuana does not exist.
    • No patient penalties for fraudulently representing that he/she has a debilitating medical condition.
    • No personal caregiver penalties for illegal diversion of medical marijuana.
    • No physician penalties for failure to properly issue physician certifications for a debilitating medical condition.