August 4, 2022 – For practically half a century, “marijuana” has been categorized as a Schedule I managed substance pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Although hashish stays unlawful at the federal stage, a complete of 41 states in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have efficiently legislated medical marijuana applications, 19 states have adopted leisure hashish applications and 23 states have decriminalized hashish completely.
Among these, Florida enacted the “Medical Use of Marijuana Act” in 2017, which is codified in Florida’s statutes, particularly governing the state public well being system, and it implements guidelines for making medicinal marijuana obtainable to certified state residents. As of 2022, practically 3% of Florida’s inhabitants is recorded on the state’s medical marijuana registry.
Florida’s hashish laws historical past
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Florida’s journey to present affected person entry to medicinal marijuana started when the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (additionally referred to as ‘Charlotte’s Web Act’ or ‘Act’) was enacted. The act supplied that terminally unwell most cancers sufferers or epilepsy sufferers can be allowed to devour low-THC hashish with out penalty.
To administer the medicinal hashish program, the Florida Department of Health established the Office of Compassionate Use and the Compassionate Use Registry to function a web based database for sufferers and therapy suppliers to register. However, many supporters of the Act discovered its language to be too restrictive and supplied a minimal foray into medical marijuana entry.
To widen applicability of the Act, The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative (Amendment 2) was proposed to develop entry supplied by the Act. After failing to efficiently change into regulation in 2014, Florida’s Amendment 2 turned a part of Florida’s Constitution on Jan. 3, 2017, looking for to develop entry to medical marijuana to “individuals identified with a debilitating medical situation” similar to most cancers, epilepsy and “different debilitating medical situations … for which a doctor believes that the medical use of marijuana would possible outweigh the potential well being dangers for a affected person.”
The Florida Legislature subsequently handed enabling laws titled “Medical use of marijuana.” Moreover, the Florida Department of Health established the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) to implement the guidelines and laws of the statute and preserve the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMU) (beforehand referred to as the “Compassionate Use Registry”).
In addition, the OMMU licenses Florida companies to domesticate, course of and dispense medical marijuana to certified sufferers and licensed marijuana testing laboratories to guarantee the well being and security of the public because it relates to marijuana use.
Florida’s medical marijuana statute
Florida’s medical marijuana statute particularly gives that those that endure from the following qualifying medical situations might receive a doctor certification for the medical use of marijuana: most cancers, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s illness, Parkinson’s illness, MS, “medical situations of the similar sort of class as or comparable to these,” terminal situations identified by a prescribing doctor and persistent nonmalignant ache.
Modifying the beforehand enacted Charlotte’s Web Act, Florida’s medical marijuana statute removes the earlier 90-day ready interval to receive medicinal merchandise and doesn’t restrict the most focus of THC that medical marijuana merchandise might comprise.
Pursuant to the statute, Florida residents should be at the very least 18 years previous to receive a medical marijuana card. Persons beneath 18 might use hashish by way of their mother and father or authorized guardians who’ve been assigned as caregivers or who’ve supplied written consent to the OMMU. Further, a minor can’t smoke marijuana until the minor has been identified with terminal illnesses or has obtained a referral from a pediatrician.
Currently, greater than 730,000 sufferers have obtained a medical marijuana card in Florida and registered with the MMU. In addition, roughly 2,401 physicians have registered to prescribe medicinal marijuana all through the state of Florida. According to the statute, sufferers can solely legally buy hashish by way of regulated and established Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) licensed by way of the OMMU.
Interestingly, the statute particularly states that it doesn’t “create a reason behind motion towards an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination.” Further, and importantly, Florida’s Legislature selected to make it clear that the statute “doesn’t restrict the means of an employer to set up, proceed, or implement a drug-free office program or coverage.”
Impact on the office
A evaluation of Florida’s Medical Marijuana Statute makes it evident that the Florida Legislature addressed a number of employment points employers might face as an increasing number of Floridians proceed to register on the MMU.
Although failing to in the end outline “employer,” the Legislature expressly states that employers are usually not required to accommodate an worker’s use of medical marijuana at work. In addition, the statute expressly prohibits medical marijuana sufferers from utilizing hashish at their place of employment with out their employer’s specific permission. However, and most significantly, the statute is silent about whether or not employers should accommodate off-site or off-work use of marijuana.
Florida statutes that present protections at the office, similar to the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) and Florida’s Drug-Free Workplace Act, don’t at the moment tackle an worker’s use of medical marijuana particularly. However, the specific language of the medical marijuana statute establishes that there is no such thing as a “carve out” exception below both the FCRA or the Drug-Free Workplace Act for workers trying to carry discrimination or wrongful termination claims in reference to their medical marijuana use.
Since Florida’s civil rights legal guidelines and drug free office legal guidelines are paralleled after federal statutes and federal interpretive case regulation, employers will almost certainly have the option to skirt having to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the office as a result of hashish continues to be thought of an unlawful Schedule I drug below the CSA.
However, Florida employers needs to be on the lookout for federal laws concerning the legalization of marijuana. On July 25, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer launched a proposed invoice entitled “The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act” which seeks to decriminalize marijuana and allow states to create their very own cannabis-related legal guidelines. This invoice may doubtlessly have an effect on the CSA’s present classification of marijuana as an unlawful schedule I substance, and in flip, doubtlessly have an effect on a disabled worker’s proper below the Florida Medical Marijuana Statute.
Florida’s Medical Marijuana Statute has tried to present steerage for Florida employers. However, until the CSA is amended to exclude marijuana as a schedule I drug and unlawful substance, employers should not have to accommodate staff who search to devour medical marijuana on or off the job. Under present state and federal laws, Florida employers should not have to tolerate an worker’s possession or use of medicinal marijuana in Florida.
AbbyeE. Alexander and Christopher J. Tellner are common,joint contributing columnists on well being care litigation for Reuters Legal News and Westlaw Today.
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