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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

Estero to consider banning medical marijuana dispensaries

10/15/17--The Village Planning and Zoning Board is expected to review an ordinance that would prevent the dispensing or cultivation of medical marijuana in Estero. Under the draft ordinance, the village would accept or approve no requests for development orders, building permits, or other applications for proposed medical marijuana facilities. Read

Florida health clinics not signing up to approve medical cannabis

10/13/17--More than 1,000 doctors are qualified to treat patients with marijuana, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. However, while the number of Polk County doctors qualified to treat with marijuana is slowly rising, the county’s largest medical centers seem to be opting out. According to Renee Petro, co-founder of CannaMoms, the shortage of doctors eligible to recommend marijuana statewide allows some doctors to charge unreasonable fees to patients. Read

State moves toward more medical marijuana licenses

9/20/17--State health officials have issued an emergency rule outlining the application process for new medical-marijuana vendors seeking to receive licenses in two weeks. The new rule, effective immediately, outsources the evaluation of the applications to “subject matter experts,” requires “blind testing” of the applications, and includes a detailed application form — all departures from the Department of Health's previous medical-marijuana regulations that spawned a series of legal and administrative challenges. Read

Marijuana, loaded gun found in teen’s backpack at school

8/25/17--According to authorities, a 13-year-old student at Gateway Charter Intermediate School in Florida was arrested on firearm and drug possession charges. He had a loaded gun and marijuana in his backpack. Read

Medical marijuana gets the green light in Tampa

8/24/17--City council members gave medical marijuana the green light in Tampa. In a 6-1 vote, council members approved an ordinance regulating dispensaries and processing facilities within city limits. The ordinance bans dispensaries and grow facilities 500 feet from a school, but it also lets owners request an exemption to open up shop inside that restricted area. Locations are limited to commercial, retail, and industrial districts, and are not allowed in residential areas. Read

Fred Levin pledges to make Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana available in Pensacola

8/24/17--Prominent local attorney Fred Levin is pushing to make the medical marijuana strain Charlotte's Web available in Pensacola. A business with connections to Levin, Loop's Nursery & Greenhouses Inc. in Jacksonville, has been approved for a license to grow, process, and distribute medical marijuana. Although it is unknown if the nursery would open a local dispensary in the Florida Panhandle, Levin has pledged to make that happen. Read

Marijuana grow house busted after teacher smells weed on student

8/23/17--A teacher led police in Hialeah, Fla., to a grow house after picking up the scent of marijuana on an 11-year-old student's clothes. The boy reportedly gave his parents up when confronted by his teacher about the smell, admitting that marijuana plants were being grown inside his home. Read

Winter Garden first to ban medical marijuana shops — for now

7/27/17--Winter Garden became the first city in Central Florida to ban cannabis dispensaries. City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said the action was intended to address zoning, not the efficacy of medical marijuana as an alternative medical treatment. He said Winter Garden could change its stance later if the Legislature restores the city’s authority to zone and regulate dispensaries as it sees fit. Read

South Floridians could pay more for medical marijuana

7/30/17--South Floridians could have to pay more than other Floridians for medical marijuana after the state awards five new grower licenses in the next week. Currently, prices range from about $74 to $90 for a 600mg cartridge of marijuana extract meant to fit into a vape pen. Costs can vary depending on seller. Read

To ban or not to ban medical marijuana dispensaries

7/14/17--The City Commission has yet to decide whether to allow dispensaries or ban them, and it plans to have a community workshop later this summer to get feedback from the public. To ban the dispensaries, the City Commission would need to pass an ordinance prohibiting them, City Attorney Jim Messer said. If the commission bans dispensaries, it would join Vero Beach as the only city on the Treasure Coast to do so. Read

Collier County commissioner’s daughter accused of producing marijuana

7/14/17--Kelley McDaniel, the daughter of Collier County Commissioner Bill McDaniel, was arrested, along with her live-in boyfriend, after detectives found a pound of marijuana, fertilizer, and growing equipment in a garage on the property, deputies said. McDaniel, a student at Florida Gulf Coast University, was also charged with making and possessing marijuana. Read

First medical marijuana store in Jacksonville opens

7/12/17--Trulieve, the first medical marijuana store in the region, has opened its doors to the public in Jacksonville on Beach Boulevard. This is the eighth store the company has opened in Florida less than a year since opening the first. Read

Collier County bans medical marijuana dispensaries, for now

7/12/17--Medicinal marijuana dispensaries will be banned from Collier County until at least the end of the year. Commissioners voted 4-1 to keep the dispensaries from opening in Collier until Dec. 31 to give the county a chance to lobby state lawmakers for more control over the number of dispensaries that could open. Read

John Morgan and Ray Rodrigues Spar Over Future of Smokeable Medical Marijuana

6/12/17--Orlando attorney John Morgan and House Majority Leader and primary Amendment 2 sponsor Ray Rodrigues are still debating over medical marijuana. Rodrigues, R-Estero, took a swipe at Morgan’s newly-filed lawsuit to allow smokeable medical marijuana in Florida. Citing studies showing smoking is an ineffective way to ingest the drug, Rodrigues said the majority of Florida voters don’t support recreational medical marijuana -- and neither does he. Read

2 kids hospitalized after eating marijuana-laced gummy bears, woman arrested

7/1/17--Bobbie Lynn Johnson of Spring Hill, Florida, is facing child abuse charges after deputies say two young children ate some of her marijuana-laced gummy bears. Sheriff’s deputies say Johnson left two packages of the laced gummy bears on a living room coffee table within reach of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, who found them and ate them. Read

What black farmers actually qualify to grow medical marijuana?

6/27/17--Florida is looking to even the playing field for farmers of color when it comes to growing medical marijuana, but many farmers -- let alone black farmers -- may not qualify to become a new licensee under strict requirements to be considered for a spot on the medical marijuana growing roster. To cash in on medical marijuana, black farmers must meet an extremely narrow set of criteria that could shut many of them out completely. Read

Rules for medical marijuana use among city, county employees unclear

6/28/17--Although Gov. Rick Scott signed medical marijuana into law, cities and counties in Florida have not drafted policies for employees with medical marijuana prescriptions. Decisions will have to be made about what this law means for employees on and off the job. Read

State law invalidated Miami Beach’s proposed medical marijuana zoning

6/28/17--After state lawmakers passed legislation governing Florida’s medical marijuana industry, local zoning regulations for dispensaries being considered in Miami Beach have stalled. The new state regulations pre-empt local governments from regulating medical cannabis dispensaries any more than they regulate pharmacies. The only other option for cities is to totally ban medical marijuana retail outlets. Read

Airport bans medical marijuana on property

6/22/17--Orlando International Airport is putting a policy in place banning pot from airport property. According to a TSA spokesperson, although officers are not specifically searching for marijuana, it will be turned over to police to handle if found during screening. Travelers busted with it could be arrested, but Orlando Police Department said it won't arrest passengers lawfully carrying medical marijuana. Read

John Morgan: I’ll sue for smokeable marijuana, and I’ll win

6/21/17--John Morgan says it’s a patient’s right to be able to smoke marijuana, and he is prepared to sue Florida over the state’s newest medical marijuana regulations, which prohibit smoking the drug outright. Gov. Rick Scott said he would “absolutely” sign the Florida legislature’s proposal to regulate the state’s booming medical marijuana industry, and Morgan said he's ready to head to court as soon as Scott’s signature hits the bill. He is confident he will emerge victorious. Read

What Florida medical marijuana will look like under proposed rules

6/19/17--Florida health officials have issued their proposed rules to implement the state’s constitutional medical marijuana amendment. The regulations that were released on Friday by the Department of Health pick up the framework from the bill passed on June 9 by the State Legislature during a special session. Last month, the Department outlined a procedure where it would give 15 days’ notice before adopting a new rule and the public three days to submit comments. Read

Florida could someday be home to massive medical marijuana businesses

6/19/17--Primed to become one of the nation’s most lucrative medical marijuana markets once it’s up and running, Florida’s program will license just a handful of businesses to produce, process, and distribute all MMJ sold in the state. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he “absolutely” intends to sign the medical marijuana bill. This will bring to 17 the total number of companies authorized to produce and dispense full-strength medical cannabis across the state, and the maximum number of dispensaries will increase to 425. Read

Tampa club owner, Redner files suit over medical marijuana

6/16/17--Strip club and brewery owner Joe Redner is one of the 18,500 card carrying Floridians with the constitutional right to get medical marijuana. Redner is filing suit, saying the Florida Department of Health has a ban on growing your own plant, which he says contradicts the constitutional amendment passed in 2016. He insists it allows patients to have any part of a marijuana plant. Redner believes a successful lawsuit could make it easier for others to get less expensive treatment. Read