TAMPA (FOX 13) - Dispensaries in California had lines out the door on New Year’s Day after recreational marijuana sales became legal, but don't expect to see that here in Florida just yet.
“Right now we're very far behind,” said local attorney Michael Minardi.
Minardi heads up Regulate Florida, a group pushing to legalize pot in the Sunshine State. He says they won't reach the 750,000 signatures needed to get it on the 2018 ballot. He’s eyeing 2020.
”We're moving forward in educating people that this is sensible policy,” he said.
Legalization would still need a 60 percent super-majority to pass. In 2016, medical marijuana was approved overwhelmingly by 72 percent of Floridians. It has not been has not been all smooth sailing since, however.
Most recently across the Bay Area, five Tetra Health Center locations suddenly shut their doors, leaving many in limbo.
“I think they looked at it as a cash cow,” said Dr. Mark Hashim.
Dr. Hashim of the Herbal Clinic MD points out that a medical marijuana patient can only have one provider, and that doctor has to be the one to deactivate the patient, so they can find a new provider.
If the doctor cannot be found, the patient is stuck.
”Research that physician, what his is background, what does he know, what does he understand, how much of his time is he dedicating to this,” he said.
Tetra Health Center reps sent FOX 13 a statement regarding their closures:
“Even though 72 percent of Florida residents voted yes for Amendment 2, there have been many challenges in providing our services to patients in need of medical marijuana. Between the legislative actions that have changed qualifying conditions to the state's delay in issuing medical cards to patients, medical providers like Tetra Health Care are facing serious roadblocks to providing compassionate patient care. We have made a decision to temporarily close some of our locations in order to focus our efforts on working directly with lawmakers to address the root of these issues, find solutions, and move forward. While this may cause some scheduling inconveniences in the short term, these patients could face more serious problems in the future without a properly executed Amendment 2. We believe that the best course of action is to ensure that all Florida residents in need have access to medical marijuana in a humane and compassionate manner. Patients can be seen at our MLK clinic, 2814 W. MLK Jr. Blvd., 33606. We are extending hours soon to accommodate the temporary consolidation.”