Five Signs That Florida Is Bungling Its Medical Marijuana Industry

Florida's mostly Republican legislators can barely pass basic laws like tax cuts or budget plans without tripping over themselves or spiraling into intra-party screaming matches. They're so bad at writing their own laws that, as the Miami Herald astutely pointed out last week, gigantic companies like Florida Power & Light have to write laws for them. The current Legislature is a Stygian pit of bad ideas.

So, naturally, Florida voters in 2016 chose to give all of those people drugs.

Last November, Sunshine State residents voted to legalize medical marijuana. This is a good development for folks with debilitating diseases such as cancer, posttraumatic stress disorder, or Alzheimer's. But it's not exactly the best-case scenario for many of Florida's reactionary, conservative lawmakers, who are extremely good at tearing welfare programs apart and not quite as great at writing large, sweeping bills that help people.

Unfortunately, Amendment 2 — the one that legalized medicinal weed last year — gave Florida lawmakers tons of leeway to set their own rules and procedures for the medical-cannabis rollout.

And, as pretty much everyone expected, here's a small sampling of why it's been a train wreck so far, at both the city and state levels:

1. Florida representatives proposed a "legalization" bill that would outlaw smokable and edible cannabis, leading one medical-pot advocate to ask, "Well, how can you ingest it?"

2. Miami Beach City Commissioner Ricky Arriola spent weeks sending emails to try to scare residents about medical marijuana dispensaries.

3. The state's rules rollout has taken so long that voters overwhelmingly say they're pissed off at Tally.

4. The City of Miami is basically pretending medical cannabis is still illegal.

5. Rather than open the medical-pot business up to the so-called free market, state legislators are basically creating a seven-company weed cartel.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.