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Florida medical marijuana amendment promises protection from state criminal liability

Florida readers are aware that they will be voting next month on Amendment 2, a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. Amendment 2 would make cannabis legal for use by qualifying patients or personal caregivers, meaning they are protected from criminal and civil penalties. Physicians who prescribe medical marijuana would be protected from penalties as well, provided they prescribe the drug for qualifying conditions. Neither would registered medical marijuana treatment centers be penalized.

While the Amendment, if approved, would protect these parties from state criminal and civil liability, it has been pointed out that it might not protect them from other potential consequences of marijuana possession, such as employment termination and insurance liability. An employee who causes an accident due to medical marijuana use could potentially still be held accountable, even though use of the drug is legal. Employers could also still fire employees who test positive for the drug if doing so is in keeping with their policies. 

Another possibility, though further removed, is that those who legally use marijuana in Florida could still be targeted for violation of federal drug laws. This fact is sort of the elephant in the room, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even if it is increasingly being legalized for medical and even recreational purposes. Granted, the Department of Justice had, under the leadership if Attorney General Eric Holder, worked from a policy of not prosecuting those who follow the laws of their state, it isn't clear how the situation will look now that he has resigned.

The important thing for Floridians who plan to grow, sell and use medical marijuana is to ensure they are abiding by the law, being properly registered and such. Enforcement of state law is bound to be strict, and it would not be surprising if law abiding citizens are unfairly targeted in the process.

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