Overview of the Amendment

Amendment Two, medical marijuana, is on the Florida ballot for the election being held on November 4, 2014. In order to pass, this ballot initiative, must receive 60% endorsement from those voting.

Obviously, if the medical marijuana ballot initiative passes, Florida employers will need to be prepared to respond appropriately. Accordingly, my next few posts will be covering the ins and outs of this ballot initiative and the impacts on employers in the Sunshine State.

Ballot Initiative

The official title reads as follows for the ballot initiative is:  “Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions”

The ballot summary, the text voters will read when they go to cast their ballot on Amendment Two, is as follows:  Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician.  Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana.  The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers.  Applies only to Florida law.  Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Ballot Details

Specifically, the measure would guarantee the following:

  • That medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.
  • That a licensed physician is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions for issuing medical marijuana to a person diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” under state law.
  • That registered medical marijuana treatment centers are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.

The measure defines a “debilitating medical condition” as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease “or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

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The Florida Department of Health would be responsible for regulating medical marijuana. The department would issue and regulate patient identification cards and personal caregiver identification cards, develop procedures related to medical marijuana treatment centers and institute regulations defining reasonable amounts of marijuana for medical use.

Of interest to employers, the constitutional amendment contains six limitations on how the amendment’s language can be construed:

  • The amendment does not “affect laws relating to non-medical use, possession, production or sale of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not authorize “the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.”
  • The amendment does not allow for the “operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not require accommodations for medical marijuana use “in any place of education or employment, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.”
  • The amendment does not require “any health insurance provider or any government agency or authority to reimburse any person for expenses related to the medical use of marijuana.”
  • The amendment does not require “the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.”

Check back, as I’ll be posting more on what Florida employers need to know if Amendment Two passes in November.
Dori K. Stibolt is an attorney with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Dori defends and counsels management in labor and employment litigation matters pertaining to wage and overtime claims, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave/restraint, and whistle-blower claims. You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.