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Florida Supreme Court kills another marijuana legalization ballot measure for 2022

6/17/21--The Florida Supreme Court has killed another marijuana legalization ballot initiative, invalidating the proposal on Thursday because a majority of justices said its summary is “misleading.” This is the second citizen initiative that the court has nullified this year that would have established a regulated marijuana market in the state. Read

Before Nikki Fried announced run for governor, she amended 2017, 2018 financial filings

6/2/21--Four days before she filed her paperwork to run for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried amended two forms to disclose she made a substantial amount more as a marijuana lobbyist than previously reported. A 2020 form says the major source of the firm’s income was Fried’s client San Felasco Nurseries, a medical marijuana license holder that sold in 2018 to Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. Read

Florida GOP chairman requests investigations into candidate Nikki Fried’s amended financial form revealing $350K in conflict of interest

6/4/21--Florida’s GOP Chairman requested Friday the state’s House and Senate investigate Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried’s amended financial disclosure form revealing $351,480 in a probable conflict of interest. Read

How the Gaetz probe grew from sex trafficking to medical pot

5/1/21--According to an AOL article, Rep. Matt Gaetz's interest in medical marijuana dates back nearly a decade, when he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. Well before he would gain national attention for his steadfast support of Donald Trump, Gaetz would carve out an unusual reputation in Tallahassee as a Republican who wanted to liberalize marijuana laws. In 2014, he co-sponsored the first state effort to allow marijuana for medical use. Read

Florida House measure to cap THC in medical marijuana

4/20/21--A controversial measure being contemplated by Florida lawmakers to cap the potency of medical marijuana will apparently not become law this year. The measure, House Bill 1455, would have had to clear just one more committee until it could be heard on the House floor: Health and Human Services. But the health committee met Monday for the last scheduled time without hearing the THC bill. Read

Florida guest post: They’re politicians, not physicians

3/3/21--Legislation has been filed to place a cap on THC, limiting the medicine’s impact — the bill will also reduce the quantity of medical cannabis that a patient may legally possess, and ultimately force sick patients to the illegal market. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is urging Florida voters to join her in telling elected officials to oppose these changes. Read

Nikki Fried says THC caps would ‘tax’ patients, marijuana industry

3/2/21--Commissioner Nikki Fried inveighed against a measure filed last week in the House by Rep. Spencer Roach that would cap flower at 10% THC, edibles at 15%, and concentrates at 60%. Fried said that people should be “very worried” about the THC caps, noting that the leadership in the House and Senate are entertaining arguments. Read

Momentum builds in the Legislature for medical THC caps

2/19/21--Caps on THC, the euphoria-inducing chemical found in many strains of medical cannabis, are again an open question in the Florida Legislature. Efforts in previous years to implement caps hit roadblocks in the Senate, but Senate President Wilton Simpson now suggests there is a more sustained interest this year. Read

Jeff Brandes refiles bill for recreational cannabis in medical storefronts

1/21/21--Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes has refiled legislation that would allow medical storefronts to sell cannabis to adults for recreational use. The bill, Availability of Marijuana for Adult Use (SB 710), would legalize the sale of cannabis to individuals 21 and older at authorized medical cannabis centers. The bill also allows adults to purchase 2.5 ounces of cannabis or a product with up to 2 grams of THC. Read

Florida lawmaker introducing Psilocybin mushroom legalization

1/15/21--Florida State Rep. Michael Grieco, a Democrat who represents Miami Beach in the state Legislature, plans to promptly introduce a bill that would legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy in the state. Modeled after a recent voter-approved initiative in Oregon, the proposal represents the first serious push for legal access to psilocybin on the East Coast. Read

Florida Supreme Court to take unusual second look at medical marijuana amendment

10/4/20--The Florida Supreme Court is poised to hold a second round of arguments in a high-stakes case about whether the state has properly carried out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Read

Mold fungus forces recall of medical marijuana product in Florida

8/19/20--The medical-marijuana company Alpha Foliage, Inc. has recalled a product that was dispensed to patients in July because of a mold fungus, the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medicaid Marijuana Use announced late Tuesday. Read

Florida’s top Democrat purges ‘inner circle’ after police escort her fiancé from hotel

6/18/20--Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried dismissed three top aides just before midnight Thursday, citing their complaints that her fiancé, a medical marijuana entrepreneur Robert “Jake” Bergmann, was “abusive” to her during a weekend argument at a Fort Lauderdale resort where police escorted him off the property. Fried, the state’s top elected Democrat, told aides by text message late Wednesday that they could no longer be in her “inner circle” but offered to find them “other roles." Read

The doctor prescribed her increasing amounts of marijuana. He didn’t check for pregnancy

5/17/20--Florida Department of Health says that Dr. Graham Robinson-Farah can’t prescribe medical marijuana after he prescribed increasing amounts of medical marijuana for a pregnant woman. According to Robinson-Farah, he didn’t know she was pregnant because he didn’t do a proper physical examination on her. Nor, the state said, did Robinson-Farah have any reason to prescribe medical marijuana to the patient in the first place. The baby had health problems soon after birth. Read

SEC charges Central Florida resident for fraud targeting retail investors

4/21/20--The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Lithia, Florida resident Steven L. Brickner, for allegedly defrauding more than 60 retail investors out of approximately $5.5 million through purported investments in marijuana-related companies Brickner controlled. Read

Florida judge: FDA’s CBD review shouldn’t stop labeling claims

4/1/20--Ongoing CBD review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shouldn’t mean that CBD makers can’t face labeling lawsuits, a federal judge in Florida ruled. The ruling means that Diamond CBD of Fort Lauderdale cannot await FDA guidelines before facing a 2019 allegation that it misrepresented the amount of CBD in its products. Read

Florida: Cannabis companies spent big to lobby in 2019. What about 2020?

3/30/20--Cannabis businesses, which have increasingly turned to Florida’s rapidly growing market, spent $3.7 million on lobbying in the state in 2019—more than double the year before—according to a Cannabis Wire analysis. The trend of spending heavily on lobbying in Florida was expected to continue in 2020, but the economic damage from the coronavirus crisis is likely deep and lasting enough to seriously trim the industry’s sails. Read

Florida researchers studying COVID-19 impact on marijuana users

4/4/20--Researchers from the University of Miami are studying the effects of the coronavirus on medical marijuana users and document how these individuals are faring during the pandemic. The study will also look at whether sharing joints and vapes could be a contributing factor to the spread of the coronavirus. Read

Florida Senate moves to cap THC potency for medical marijuana

2/28/20--After weeks of rumors that the Florida House was pushing an amendment that would put a cap on the amount of THC in all medical marijuana at 10% potency, the proposal was finally filed Friday afternoon in the Senate. Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, filed the amendment to a larger health care package. The Senate Rules committee, the bill’s last stop, will take up the amendment Monday afternoon. Read

Move to cap THC in medical marijuana stalls in Florida Senate

3/2/20--A proposed cap on the level of euphoria-inducing THC in medical marijuana has hit a snag in the Florida Senate, leaving a priority of the House in jeopardy as time runs down on the legislative session. Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, introduced a proposal Monday that would have capped THC levels in medical marijuana for patients under age 21. Read

THC cap on medical marijuana progresses in the House

3/5/20--An amendment that establishes a potency cap of 10% THC for medical marijuana patients under 21 has made its way back to the Florida House floor, where it was tacked onto a larger healthcare bill during a floor session Thursday. Capping THC is a priority of House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, who said Wednesday the chemical in medical marijuana could “possibly be detrimental to a young brain.” Read

Whiskey, marijuana and speed. New details revealed about deadly Bayshore Boulevard crash.

1/10/20--Benjamin Douglas Ehas faces charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in Thursday’s deadly crash. Ehas told officers he smoked marijuana at about 7 a.m., then imbibed the whiskey later that morning, according to his arrest report. Investigators said he had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.234, almost three times the level at which Florida law presumes impairment. Read

Florida marijuana lawsuit: ‘Stealth Deadline’ means legalization might miss 2020 ballot

1/2/20--Organizers behind an effort to place a marijuana legalization measure before Florida voters this November are suing the state over what they say are unconstitutional hurdles in the way of ballot access. At the center of the dispute is a controversial new law the legislature enacted last year that places additional restrictions on the signature gathering process that the campaign says pose “an enormous (if not insurmountable) barrier to the ability of sponsors.” Read

Is recreational marijuana coming to Florida?

11/6/19--According to the Florida Division of Elections, there are currently about 57,000 valid signatures submitted statewide so far to get a recreational marijuana question on the ballot. But organizers have a long way to go; they need almost 800,000. Read

As recreational marijuana becomes possible in Florida, state lawmakers ask Oregon for nuggets of wisdom

11/6/19--Facing the possibility that Floridians could be asked next year to legalize recreational marijuana, a House panel on Tuesday turned to Oregon to learn more about the economic, environmental, and health impacts the state has faced since authorizing adult pot use four years ago. Read

Five bills that would change Florida’s marijuana laws

10/29/19--Some newly proposed bills would lay the foundation for legalization of recreational marijuana in Florida, and others indicate a more lax approach to drug sentencing. As it stands, lawmakers continue to grapple with their approach to licensing medical marijuana facilities and regulating public smoking now that hemp is legal. With that in mind, Miami New Times outlines what state legislators have been working on lately. Read

Recreational marijuana could become legal in Florida. How should the governor act?

8/22/19--Florida may soon be turning to pot in a way that could realign politics for generations to come. Surveys show that making recreational marijuana legal – with strict restraints and regulations in play -- is already favored by two out of three Floridians. While this would have seemed unimaginable a few years ago, the interest is rolling in. Read

With new hemp law, ‘sniff and search’ goes up in smoke

7/13/19--"Sniff and search" has long resulted in many arrests for law enforcement in Palm Beach County. But, apparently, nearly all sniff-and-search cases just went up in smoke. According to State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office via an emailed memo from his intake division, it is imperative for police departments to determine whether seized cannabis is marijuana or hemp from a 1 percent test kit, and a commitment from the agency that it will pay for quantitative testing by a private, accredited lab before charges can be filed. Read

FAMU seeks to educate public about medical marijuana

7/8/19--Peter Harris, who runs Florida A&M University's Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative, is leading the efforts to educate minority communities on how medical marijuana can be useful. According to Harris, “The Department of Health is funding us to look into educating the public on the value of medical marijuana, but at the same time, educating the public on consequences of illicit use.” FAMU has already held more than a dozen forums and a dozen more are scheduled. Read

Florida’s medical marijuana rules are unconstitutional, court says

7/9/19--A 1st District Court of Appeal decision in Tallahassee called the current medical marijuana regulatory system inconsistent with Amendment 2, the ballot proposal that legalized medical marijuana. Furthermore, it is being deemed unconstitutional for the way it caps licenses and charges companies with essentially being one-man bands — they must grow, process, package and sell medical marijuana without bringing in businesses to handle different parts of the process. Read

MedMen expands its cannabis retail empire to Florida

6/14/19--MedMen Enterprises, one of the larger cannabis dispensary operations in the US, is zeroing in on Florida as it continues its US expansion. MedMen, which is based in Los Angeles and operates 35 medical and recreational cannabis stores in the US, opened a 7,550-square-foot medical marijuana dispensary in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. Read

Marco Island moves closer to having medical marijuana dispensaries

6/4/19--The City Council voted Monday to direct the city attorney to prepare a resolution stating that medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted on Marco Island. The motion, presented by councilor Jared Grifoni, passed 5-2. Chairperson Erik Brechnitz and councilor Howard Reed voted against it. Read

Medical marijuana firm seeks OK to expand

6/4/19--Alpha Foliage, one of the state’s largest medical-marijuana firms, wants to grow bigger. The company filed a petition last week with the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use seeking to increase its number of storefronts. Read

Florida governor could kill recreational pot

5/10/19--Governor Ron DeSantis, who has previously stated he sides with the will of the people, has made no indication of whether he will sign the bill. If he does, the law would go into effect immediately, affecting 27 active petition drives seeking to place Constitutional amendments on the 2020 general election ballot. Read

Top city officials pushback against decriminalizing marijuana

5/10/19--Legislation filed this week by Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana is getting pushback from top city officials. Under the current law, possession of a small amount of pot is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Dennis’ proposal would replace that with a $100 fine or 10 hours of community service. Read

Medical marijuana firms want to open more storefronts in Florida

5/7/19--Two medical marijuana operators, Surterra Florida LLC and Curaleaf Florida LLC, want the state to give them the same treatment as Florida’s largest medical-marijuana firm, after health officials allowed Quincy-based Trulieve to open more dispensaries than a state law allowed. Read

Smokable medical marijuana is now legal in Jacksonville and other parts of Florida

3/21/19--Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into a law a measure repealing a ban on smokable medical marijuana. Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator, was the first of Florida’s 14 operators to sell whole-flower products, for use in joints, pipes or bongs. Curaleaf also was approved by the state to start selling smokable marijuana. Both have locations in Jacksonville. Read

Smoking medical marijuana becomes legal in Florida

3/19/19--Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that now makes smokable medical marijuana legal in the Sunshine State, which had been a priority for the Republican governor since taking office in January. However, qualified patients may have to wait a bit before they are prescribed a smokable form of pot. Read

Medical marijuana update: Trulieve’s edible deal and lawmakers debate smokable marijuana

2/14/19--Florida growers are working on deals to get edibles in the state, while lawmakers are again taking up the issue of smoking medical marijuana. Meanwhile, medical marijuana company Trulieve announced it has signed a deal to sell edible products in Florida from Colorado company Love’s Oven. Read

Democratic marijuana lobbyist wins statewide race after Florida recount

11/19/18--Nikki Fried, a marijuana lobbyist seen as a rising star in her party, appeared to have narrowly won the race for state agriculture commissioner Monday, after her opponent, Republican Matt Caldwell, conceded. Democrats clung to Fried’s win as a sign that all is not lost for them in the nation’s largest battleground state. The race between Fried and Caldwell was the subject of a historic statewide recount. Read

We asked Florida candidates if they’ve smoked marijuana. Here’s what they said.

10/12/18--The Times asked all candidates for statewide office if they have ever smoked marijuana, and if their experiences with the drug have influenced their views on marijuana policy. Four of the 12 candidates acknowledged prior marijuana use. Five candidates said they have never smoked, and three wouldn't respond. Read

Judge sides with Redner, chastises Florida officials over medical marijuana licenses

10/6/18--In a harshly worded order scolding state officials for treating the Constitution “like a recommendation,” Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson gave the Department of Health two weeks to begin registering new medical marijuana operators or risk being found in contempt. Dodson’s order followed an August decision in which the judge found that a 2017 law, aimed at implementing the amendment, is unconstitutional because, among other things, it caps the number of highly sought-after medical marijuana licenses health officials can issue. Read

Dade City Commission extends moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries

9/12/18--Two years into a temporary ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, Dade City officials are still wrangling with whether or not to prohibit them permanently. During a recent meeting, the Dade City Commission voted to extend for another six months its moratorium banning medical marijuana dispensaries first established in 2016. Read

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried holding joint call on passing marijuana reform

9/9/18--Following action by multiple banks to close Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried’s campaign accounts, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist will file federal legislation to address conflict between federal and state marijuana laws. Crist and Fried, both Democrats, will hold a joint press call Monday to discuss the “urgent need to reform marijuana for medical use advocacy at the federal level.” Read

Medical marijuana is legal in Florida, but its high cost puts it out of reach for many

8/31/18--Medical marijuana use is on the rise in Florida, but the process required to gain eligibility for use of the low-THC cannabis, as well as the cost of physician evaluations and the drug itself, can be prohibitive for some. Dispensaries put the average dose at about 100 milligrams, which would cost patients between $500 and $750 per month. Read

Fort Lauderdale will enforce limit on marijuana clinics, despite state law saying it can’t

8/23/18--Fort Lauderdale officials said they will reject several medical marijuana dispensaries in the northeast part of the city, even while acknowledging that a city law limiting clinic numbers likely won’t hold up in court. The city’s law allows a maximum of four medical marijuana dispensaries citywide, one in each City Commission district. Four businesses are seeking to open in District 1, the Northeast. Read

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC

8/9/18--Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, has opened his own Florida fundraising panel, Clarity PAC,  to support pro-marijuana candidates and influence legislation. Its mission is to advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic. Read

Will recreational marijuana be legalized in Florida in 2020? John Morgan thinks so.

7/6/18--Orlando attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the successful effort to broadly legalize medical marijuana in Florida two years ago, says he will raise funds — and dip into his own deep pockets — to get a recreational use measure on the 2020 ballot. Morgan said he is speaking with U.S. marijuana companies to raise enough money to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot and would personally contribute any needed funds. He estimates the campaign would need about $5 million. Read

Ruling throws cold water on smokable marijuana case

7/3/18--An appellate court on Tuesday refused to allow smokable medical marijuana while a legal fight continues to play out. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal came in a lawsuit initiated by Orlando trial attorney John Morgan and others who maintain that a Florida law barring patients from smoking their treatment runs afoul of a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Read

Marijuana campaign Part 2?

6/30/18--Orlando attorney John Morgan apparently wants to put more money into getting Floridians to vote on marijuana. The lawyer, who spent about $7 million backing a successful 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana, is now suggesting the creation of a fund that would support putting “full marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2020.” Read

With new Deltona dispensary, medical marijuana coming to main street

3/10/18--Surterra Wellness is one of 28 medical dispensaries now operating under Florida’s legalized system to provide access to the drug. Early projections suggest there is a market of at least 500,000 Floridians who could benefit from medical marijuana. Surterra, like some other companies, has plotted out the goal of opening a location in every metro area in the state. Read

Recreational marijuana in Florida likely on hold for years

1/2/18--Anyone hoping that Florida voters would get a shot at legalizing recreational marijuana in 2018 will likely be disappointed. Organizers of the two primary efforts to get the issue on the state’s Nov. 6 ballot say they won’t come close to collecting the required 766,000 petition signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline. The groups now hope that 2020 will be their year. Read

Commission weighs ban on medical marijuana dispensaries

3/18/18--St. Johns County commissioners will hear the first reading of a ban on medical marijuana treatment center dispensing facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county. Commissioners at their Feb. 20 meeting unanimously approved developing an ordinance to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated St. Johns County, but clarified they are not restricting access to medical marijuana, just the dispensing facilities. They’ve said qualifying patients will still be able to have medical marijuana delivered to their homes. Read

Florida teacher sold marijuana to middle schoolers, authorities say

12/9/17--Maria Otilla Rivera-Magana, a Florida substitute teacher, was arrested Friday after allegedly selling marijuana to two middle school students. According to authorities, the students admitted to smoking the drug after complaining of feeling sick, FOX 4 reported. Rivera-Magana was being held on a $90,500 bond at the Hendry County Jail. Read

Collier County lengthens marijuana dispensary ban

11/26/17--Medicinal marijuana dispensaries will be banned in Collier County for another six months as local commissioners try to wait for state lawmakers to change the rules surrounding them. County commissioners want control over the number of dispensaries that could open after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 opening up rights for the use of medicinal marijuana. Read

Five out of five cities in Florida county ban medical marijuana

11/7/17--Palmetto solidified a unanimous medical marijuana ban in all cities within Manatee County, becoming the fifth, and last, city to initiate a ban on dispensaries. Bradenton, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria, and Bradenton Beach had already passed similar bans. Read

Jacksonville Beach leaders make moves to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city

11/6/17--Jacksonville Beach leaders have taken the first step in permanently banning medical marijuana shops. The state has said the marijuana dispensaries can either be regulated like pharmacies or be banned altogether. Given those two choices, it appears Jacksonville Beach leaders are going with the second option to ban. The council ultimately voted 4-3 to pass the ban on first reading. Read

Medical marijuana dispensaries blocked from opening by moratoriums, bans

11/3/17--Although Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment allowing the use of medical marijuana for cancer patients and others with a range of medical conditions, Brevard County and many of its cities and towns have enacted moratoriums or bans on the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries. Palm Bay has been an exception, as its City Council last month approved an ordinance to allow medical marijuana treatment centers where medical marijuana could be dispensed. Read

Senate proposal would allow smoking medical marijuana

11/2/17--Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed the bill (SB 726) for consideration during the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. Lawmakers in June passed a measure to carry out a November 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. The measure bars smoking marijuana while allowing patients to use cannabis through other means, including vamping. Read

UF researchers begin study on marijuana as opioid alternative

10/26/17--University of Florida Health doctors have begun a new study looking at the health effects of marijuana on people with HIV, including its potential as an alternative to addictive opioids. According to Dr. Robert Cook, the study’s lead investigator, the doctors will be monitoring the patients and their marijuana use. They will be exploring both negative and positive effects of using cannabis as medicine. Read