The Florida Medical Marijuana Legislative Initiative (also known as Amendment 2), passed with 71% of the popular vote on November 8, 2016. Amendment 2 allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with certain debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Because Amendment 2 is silent as to its effective date, under Florida law it becomes effective “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the election.” If you’re still on your holiday high (pun intended), that means – today.

Amendment 2 does not authorize recreational use of pot. Rather, it only permits the medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient (or personal caregiver administering to the patient), meaning a person who has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition by a licensed Florida physician, and who has a valid qualifying patient identification card (i.e., a DOH-issued medical marijuana ID card). A debilitating medical condition under Amendment 2 includes: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for HIV, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to this list, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

The Florida Department of Health (“DOH”) still needs to create the rules for how the medical marijuana program will be implemented and regulated. The DOH’s deadline for doing so is June 3, 2017. Medical Marijuana ID cards must be issued to patients no later than October 3, 2017.

Expect the Florida Legislature, which convenes on March 7th, to also pass new laws to address issues that currently have left Florida employers in a haze. For example, can an employer terminate an employee who uses medical marijuana off-premises, but tests positive for medical marijuana use under a zero-tolerance drug policy?

Florida employers – exhale – we’ll keep you apprised of significant developments in the coming year.

Happy New Year!