While recreational pot drive makes progress
The list of legal medical marijuana growers is growing, while a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana is advancing to the state Supreme Court. Plus, up to 7,600 people across the U.S. may have fake nursing credentials sent by three Florida nursing schools that the feds say were running an illegal scheme. It’s all in this week’s Healthcare Digest.
Medical Marijuana Licenses: It’s been more than six years since Florida voters approved the 2016 constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana use. The state Department of Health (DOH) the next year issued 22 licenses to medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) in the state with the requirement of more to come as the number of patients grew. Now that there are 778,000 patients, DOH last week opened up the long-awaited application process for an additional 22 licenses. Under state law, licensees grow, process, and sell the marijuana. Florida’s medical marijuana industry has grown to well over $1 billion in annual sales.
Recreational Marijuana: The big money they say is in the legal recreational marijuana industry, now in 12 states and Washington D.C. Florida may be one of the next. A proposed state constitutional amendment called Adult Personal Use of Marijuana would make it legal for anyone over 21 years old to possess, buy, or use marijuana. It has now gathered 294,046 signatures, more than enough for the ballot language to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court. The court will review the wording of the proposed amendment and its summary to make sure it covers only a single subject and won’t mislead voters. The court rejected two such ballot proposals in 2021. The News Service of Florida reports that Trulieve, one of Florida’s largest medical marijuana providers, has provided almost all of the $20 million spent so far to collect and verify signatures. If the court approves the language, 891,589 valid signatures will be needed to get it on the 2024 ballot, with certain numbers of signatures coming from at least half of the state’s congressional districts.
Alleged Diploma Mill: Federal authorities in late January announced the arrest of 25 people for their part in selling fake nursing school diplomas and transcripts to upward of 7,600 people across the country. The feds say about 2,400 of them managed to pass their state licensing exams, mostly in New York State, which allows an unlimited number of tries at passing the nursing exam. Those so credentialed are allowed to practice in Florida and many other states. The diplomas sold on average for $15,000 and brought in a total of $114 million in the alleged scam. The Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm Beach County, Siena College in Lauderhill and Sacred Heart International Institute in Fort Lauderdale are accused of participating in the scheme. All are now closed. You can read more in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
LMA Newsletter of 2-6-23