2014 is poised to be a big year for marijuana legitimacy. Earlier this year, Washington and Colorado legalized the use of recreational marijuana, and perhaps more importantly, the Department of Justice clarified that it will not pursue legal action against institutions that choose to involve themselves in the booming weed economy so long as they follow a list of guidelines. But while lifting prohibition for recreational use may still be a ways off for most states, many are now taking a hard look at their regulatory stance on medicinal usage, and the result have been surprising.
On June 16, Florida passed a bill that allows for the usage of a low potency strain of medicinal marijuana that has been praised for its success treatment of epilepsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and certain cancers. Known as CBD or “Charlotte’s Web,” the strain has been processed to remove much of the high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol typically found in marijuana, and is often used to treat children affected by those ailments.
The bill was green lit by Fla. Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, and could pave the way for more holistic medicinal marijuana legalization, a proposed bill for which is expected to pass in November.
Scott said, “As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer. The approval of Charlotte’s Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life. I am proud to stand today with families who deserve the ability to provide their children with the best treatment available.”
While the new bill will make CBD marijuana accessible to children and adults suffering from seizures or chronic pain, fledgling marijuana industry is still expected to see heavy regulation in Fla. Even so, The L.A. Times reports that the National Cannabis Industry Assn. estimates medical marijuana will be a $785-million industry in the state.
Currently 23 states have legalized medicinal marijuana use, and 17 have decriminalized possession. While only Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational usage, federal prohibition is still enforceable in those states. New York State is also considering the legalization of medicinal marijuana.
Attitudes concerning the legitimate use of marijuana for medical ailments have undoubtedly been thawing. But as legal disparities between federal prohibition, recreational use and the legitimate medical application of marijuana remain a state-by-state and case-by-case issue, the regulatory environment surrounding the issue can be incredibly complex.
In the coming weeks we’ll take a look at what the regulatory environment is likely to look like in Fla., and how it has the potential to affect businesses that suddenly find themselves thrust into the conversation.