A new report shows medical marijuana use in Florida is steadily rising.
Approximately 136,000 patients statewide received marijuana certificates from their doctors in the first nine months of 2018, according to the Physician Certification Pattern Review panel, which issued the report.
Voters in 2016 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana. Lawmakers then implemented legislation in 2017 to carry out the voters’ wishes following a number of legal challenges.
Rolling out Florida’s medical marijuana legalization effort has been slow for many reasons. One reason that lawmakers have pointed to is a lack of research and data.
Republican State Senator Rob Bradley, one of the architects of the two-year-old pot law, said that the lack of research is largely because the federal government has continued to categorize marijuana as a schedule one drug.
“That’s a ridiculous classification by the Federal government,” he said. “ And that needs to be addressed, so that we can have more research and data collected on the positive and negative effects of marijuana for people who are ill.”
Bradley, who represents the 5th District in North Central Florida, said the current administration has been slow to allow doctors to prescribe pot.
“Fortunately, we have a law in place that provides for more licenses to be issued as more patients come on line. We just need the executive branch to issue those licenses,” he said.
Florida also limits the number of grower-distributors it allows to operate, which has led to legal challenges from rejected nurseries.
Bradley said he expects the Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis' administration to issue more licenses.
Florida is one of 33 states that have legalized some form of medical marijuana. Ten states and Washington D.C. allow recreational use.