Lighting Up Florida Medical Marijuana People: The Crusaders, Part 8

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AUTHOR: Heather Allman


Lighting Up Florida Medical Marijuana People: The Crusaders, Part 8


May 2019 finally brought “Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries announcing their intentions to introduce legislation in Congress known as the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, to remove marijuana from the CSA, thus ending the nearly century-long federal policy of prohibition.”


In spite of marijuana’s federal illegality, our Florida state medical marijuana program seeds are quite possibly on the verge of fully blossoming.


On June 14, 2019, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida is selected to lead a medical marijuana research consortium, in order to: “evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, consider dosing and routes of administration, including study of the effects of smoking medical marijuana versus other methods of consumption,” among other goals.


Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., the Director of the UF Center for Drug Evaluation and Safety expands:

There is an urgent need to enhance the evidence base related to the emerging marijuana and cannabis market in Florida, and UF has been involved with the Florida Medical Marijuana Program since 2014 and is well-prepared to leverage its extensive research infrastructure and broad faculty expertise to investigate the safe and effective use of medical marijuana in the state of Florida.”


These “methods of consumption,” otherwise known as cannabis delivery routes, are sold in product form at all of the Florida twelve licensed MMTC dispensaries, including smokable cannabis flower. For now, though, still no edibles.


Inhale deeply once again. As promised, the state updates to Florida’s medical marijuana program are not identical after a waiting period of any length.


In Times of CBD on July 19, 2019, contributor Denis reported that Florida Looks to Regulate CBD as Sunshine State Looks to Pass Cannabidiol Laws by September.


Dispensaries serve as The Crusaders who are literally growing medical marijuana in the state, while figuratively growing the state’s fledgling program simply through their participation.


  • What Florida state regulation issues have transpired directly pertaining to local dispensaries and ancillary agents?

The Medics prescribe the patient’s recommendation for medical cannabis products that can be purchased by the patient (1) in various delivery routes: oral, inhalation, tinctures, oils, topicals, smokable; and (2) in various products and strains, depending on the particular dispensary.


The Front Lines patient can fill their recommended medical marijuana order at any, or all, of the Florida dispensary Crusader locations, using any desired personal combination of delivery routes and cannabis products.


Patients are not limited to specific product choices when receiving their medical marijuana order. Although their personal CME physician can make suggestions concerning product choices or dispensaries that would be best for the patient’s qualifying condition and associated symptoms; however, patients are not required to purchase specific cannabis products.


Likewise, patients cannot be required to purchase from a specific state-licensed dispensary. Both the medical marijuana dispensary and cannabis products purchased are at the sole discretion of the individual Florida patient.


Licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers authorized to dispense products in any form or delivery route to qualified patients currently include twelve companies called dispensaries.


  • Why and how, specifically, can Florida’s current vertical integration model be ruled unconstitutional? Twelve current licensed MMTC dispensaries exist, which begs the question: how can Florida’s vertical integration model requirement for state licensure be intrinsically problematic?

Here’s a timeline of Florida Medical Marijuana between 2016 and 2019, leading up to the ultimate “unconstitutional” decision.


In 2016, Florida had only six dispensing businesses licensed by the state’s Department of Health to grow, process, and distribute marijuana, rather than the currently existing twelve dispensary businesses. Trulieve was the first dispensary to be issued a license by the state as noted on July 20, 2016: Florida’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ready To Hit Market.


The following year, Floridians got a double hit of medical marijuana news concerning regulation and dispensary licensure. First with Smith and Lannon’s report on how Local Regulation of Medical Marijuana is in Florida, closely followed by Jerry Ianelli’s November 2017 news that a Miami Nursery Sues to Demand Florida Allow More Medical Pot Farms.


The following Spring saw the arrival of Elizabeth Koh’s April 3, 2018 article, revealing that medical marijuana provider sues Department of Health over caps on dispensaries.


So far, 2019 has not disappointed medical marijuana watchers with its whirlwind of dispensary and licensing news. These days, Floridians see fresh cannabis updates on a regular basis. As discussed in Part 7, the strong Florida medical marijuana Crusaders marched forward and made some ground.


But Florida Medical Marijuana System Now In Court was the abrupt January 2, 2019 start to the new year with the announcement:

“The suit is not about stopping medical marijuana in Florida but what the rules ought to be governing a lucrative market. If there is one state that is the most melted in the national melting pot, it’s Florida. That’s fantastic in many ways, but it also means that many different people have strong opinions on serious issues.This, of course, includes marijuana.”


Eric Sandy continued the story in Latest Court Ruling in Florida Reiterates Unconstitutionality of Medical Marijuana Law, noting that “If this Circuit Court order is upheld, the limit on the number of retail locations per business license will be out the window.”


On January 30, 2019, Nikki Fried announced more help for marijuana patients in a release which closely followed her creation of a new Director of Cannabis position within the state of Florida’s Department of Agriculture:

The new directorship means a full movement forward on to instituting hemp here in our state and moving forward on a rulemaking process in accordance with the Farm Bill that was passed and signed in 2018. Hemp, outlawed in the 1930s, is a member of the cannabis plant family to which marijuana belongs; it was cultivated by humans for centuries for its fiber to make rope and clothing, It’s also used to produce CBD oil, often now taken to treat pain and relieve inflammation.”


Jim Saunders explained in the Orlando Weekly that “Florida health department challenges ruling on medical marijuana dispensaries as lawmakers weigh changes to the state’s medical-marijuana laws, the Florida Department of Health has appealed a circuit judge’s ruling that struck down a limit on the number of dispensaries that marijuana businesses can operate.”


The Tallahassee Democrat highlighted the highly-anticipated final state ruling that Trulieve could indeed expand to 49 medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida under an agreement with the Department of Health on April 1, 2019.


Florida then added eight more medical marijuana operators to the 14 businesses currently selling cannabis throughout the state,” according to Dara Kam of the Sun Seninel.


Kelsey Sunderland reported on the much-anticipated case of Tampa strip club owner, Joe Redner, loses in medical marijuana lawsuit: “In a late Tuesday decision, a state court of appeals said it would not reconsider the April decision” concerning his medical marijuana home-grow


Like the program’s infrastructure, the seemingly abstract individual pieces of reality outlined here comprise a timeline of the concrete Florida medical marijuana bigger picture. However, we must keep that clear therapeutic, not capitalistic, vision in mind — a vision to make medical marijuana available, accessible, and moreaffordable to all those in need within Florida.


The summer Florida medical marijuana news keeps flying fast, like the June 2019‘s news that Nikki Fried names doctors, lawyers, patients to new Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, citing that “We have a moral obligation to act.”


On July 12, 2019, bigger things than smokable OMMU Registry changes were underway concerning Florida-based marijuana company, Jushi, who closed an agreement to acquire Pennsylvania-based Franklin Bioscience in a $63 million deal for medical cannabis dispensary space, according to Marijuana Business Daily.


The Orlando Sentinel followed the evolving Florigrown lawsuit saga with its report: “Florida House leaders should be able to participate in a lawsuit that could revolutionize the state’s medical marijuana market, a lawyer for the Republican-led chamber told a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal.”


Then came Florida’s medical marijuana rules are unconstitutional, an article stressing the fact that the court struck down the laws that created a “vertically integrated business model” for the medical marijuana program.


Cannabis Dispensary Magazine ran a mid-July article by Eric Sandy concerning the highly-publicized suit: Florida Appellate Court Rules Medical Cannabis Market Structure Unconstitutional:

“An appellate court has sided with a Florida medical cannabis business, once again delivering a blow to the law directing the state’s medical cannabis market. Tampa-based Florigrown sued the state after it was denied a medical cannabis business license. The Florigrown lawsuit and its attendant judicial rulings thus far reveal the tension between what the voters approved and what the legislators approved.”

The Florida House seeks to intervene in ‘monumental’ case, and Jim Rosica outlines this unusual case further, noting that the “House wants in on medical marijuana lawsuit: The state does not always speak with one voice.”


As of July 19, 2019, Florida has 144 medical cannabis dispensaries, with 142 currently open for operation in the state and 2 new physical locations opening soon. A complete Florida Dispensary List can be found here, updated in July by Florida Dispensaries.


NORMLSocietal Impacts of Cannabis Dispensaries/Retailers


Thinking about trying natural, safer medical marijuana as an alternative therapy for pain managment? The ASA offers this comprehensive blueprint for states, and John Taenzler’s Legal Implications for Physicians Recommending Medical Cannabis in the USA from July 17, 2019 strongly suggests medical cannabis therapy, or MCT, works phenominally for a wide array of individual pain management over traditional opioids:

“In our studies examining the use of Medical Cannabis Therapy (MCT) by Oncologists and Pain Management Specialists, we asked physicians what their biggest barrier was to their adoption of medical cannabis. Two-thirds (65%), mention legal concerns. Concern for legal exposure and increased risk of malpractice associated with MCT remains high, given federal status of cannabis being Schedule I.”


New Frontier National Overview: State Medical Cannabis Markets Vary with Saturation Levels


Tom Angell reported some of the biggest and loudest national marijuana news on July 16, 2019 in his Forbes article, shining a brightly-needed light on the noteworthy fact that the U.S. Senate Schedules Hearing On Marijuana Business Banking Access: “In one of the clearest signs of marijuana reform’s growing momentum on Capitol Hill, a Republican-controlled Senate committee has scheduled a hearing for next week that will examine cannabis businesses’ lack of access to banking services.”


While reexamining this present saga as it unfolds and providing a brief glimpse of our past, remember that the heart of the present darkness in the Florida Medical Marijuana program must be rethought, reworked, and revamped daily.


The state is indeed reviewing and analyzing its current medical marijuana program, not only through the installation of new positions and new people, but also through a serious shift in the direction of the contextual conversation. The past and present must inform the future of Florida Medical Marijuana if the program is to evolve.


The installation of the state’s new Director of Cannabis and the direction of individual core components within the existing cannabis structure, such as the wide-spectrum Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, both exemplify a renewed focus on shifting the context of Florida’s cannabis conversation. If successful, the state could more effectively grow its medical marijuana model beyond vertical integration.


Florida imagines a very near future driven by innovation and inquisitiveness about cannabis medicine. Florida hopes that they can ideliver the best version of a marijuana program, a finalized version of the existing program which includes Edibles, and the brightest version in which the most innovative ideas of this collective marijuana movement have been brought to fruition.


Why is this issue of Florida medical marijuana important and worth watching? In Florida, the best is always yet to come. While we wait for our next marching orders, read the following Overvew for specific information about five of Florida’s Medical Marijuana Dispensaries:


  • OVERVIEW » Quick Reference Guide:


  1. (Licensee #1 of 12) Trulieve:


  1. (Licensee #2 of 12) Curaleaf:


  1. (Licensee #4 of 12) Vidacann:


  1. (Licensee #9 of 12) Surterra Wellness:


  1. (Licensee #10 of 12) Fluent (formerly Knox):


Refer to the following References for further information about the Florida State Medical Marijuana Program:


Contact Heather

Heather Allman
B.A.Ed., M.A, University of West Florida
Non-Profit Founder: Allman Education,
Location: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Phone: 1-850-287-2509
Twitter and Instagram: @allmaneducation
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Heather Allman

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