The Compassionate Use Act first legalized medical cannabis in 2014 in Florida and allowed patients suffering from cancer and epilepsy to access low-THC cannabis. Then, in 2016 under the Right to Try Act, the program expanded and permitted full strength cannabis to be given to patients with a terminal illness.
On November 8, 2016, Florida voters passed Amendment 2 with a 71.3% majority allowing for an expanded medical cannabis program. That law became effective on January 3, 2017. Then, in June 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 8A into law, removing the “90 day wait” and establishing operational guidelines to meet the requirements of Amendment 2.
While an expanded medical cannabis is lawful under Florida law, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Likewise, the distribution of any marijuana violates federal law. Complicating factors even more are that banks are strictly prohibited from financing drug transactions or even allowing bank accounts for marijuana dispensaries. Bank Secrecy Act issues, money laundering offenses, and tax regulations are all implicated by marijuana sales.
David Haas, a former federal prosecutor in the Middle District of Florida’s Orlando Division and the founding partner of Haas Law. He can be contacted at [email protected] or (407) 755-7675.
Visit www.HaasLawPLLC.com for updated blog posts about the federal government’s enforcement crackdown on medical marijuana.