By Joshua J. Butera

September 18, 2023

While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made clear his opposition to legalizing recreational cannabis use in Florida, trends certainly seem like they are going in that direction. For example, in April, the state doubled the number of licenses available to cultivators and retailers. Recently, a new law signed by the Governor makes medical marijuana prescription renewals easier. And finally, the question of recreational cannabis itself has received enough signatures to be on the ballot in 2024 as a constitutional amendment.

This summer, Governor DeSantis signed HB 387 into law, which can be considered as expanding Florida’s medical marijuana program. The new law allows existing medical marijuana patients to use telehealth visits, rather than in-person exams, to renew their prescriptions. Previously, a patient would have to visit their physician in person to renew a prescription.

The new law also provides additional medical marijuana licenses to Florida’s black farmers. Under prior law, the Florida Department of Health was required to issue a single license to a class member of the Pigford v. Glickman/In Re Black Farmers class action case. The new law requires that a medical marijuana license be issued to any farmer that is a class member, provided there are no deficiencies in the application (class members must still go through the competitive application process).

Finally, earlier this summer, Florida officials released information that a proposal to amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana for recreational use had received enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. However, before it can be placed on the ballot, the Florida Supreme Court must review the proposal to ensure that the proposal is limited to a single issue and will not confuse voters. Florida’s attorney general has already challenged the proposal on those grounds. While the legalization of recreational cannabis may still be up in the air, continued expansion of Florida’s medical marijuana program seems likely over the coming years.

Joshua J. Butera is Senior Counsel with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC and a member of the Corporate & Business Law, Municipal Law and Cannabis Law Teams. If you have questions or would like more information, Attorney Butera can be reached at 561-362-2030 or jbutera@pldolaw.com.

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