What Florida businesses need to know
The medical marijuana issue in Florida took its first steps in June of 2014 with the founding of the Office for Compassionate Use. In June of this year, Florida’s governor signed Amendment 2. This legislation which had begun to move in January, was designed to legalize the provision of low-THC cannabis and full strength medical marijuana (MM) in our state.
Ten further MM treatment centers were slated alongside seven already in existence. At time of writing, only six dispensaries are authorized to distribute it. The deadline for all of this to take effect was penciled in for early October. However, controversial delays saw the progression of Amendent 2 hampered along with the issuing of state ID cards (a process that can already take as long as 50 days).
The most recent figures show 50,775 MM patients in Florida, with 1,066 ordering physicians. If you’re involved with MM in any way, it’s best to have all the information you can on this sensitive issue. The good news is that even as the legislation stalls and evolves, there are core safety measures you can have in place to look out for your interests.
A look at the law
Amendment 2 prohibits the smoking of marijuana but allows it to be taken in the form of tinctures, sprays, vaping, oils, and edibles. The bill itself was popular with the majority of Florida voters, but the limitation on the smoking aspect is still being challenged (which means of course that MM can’t be home grown). If deemed suitable by a medical professional, patients who require MM would receive three 70-day supplies, upon completion of which reassessment of the circumstances would be necessary.
Chapter 381 of the Florida Statutes clearly defines the terms for classifying MM and laying down the rules for its responsible dispensation and use. Patients must be diagnosed as having one or more of the necessary conditions that require MM, some examples of which are chronic pain, HIV, epilepsy, cancer and other conditions outlined under Article (2). Qualifying patients are then added to a MM use registry, supplied with a dispensing device (if applicable) and monitored in their usage.
What Florida businesses should be considering
It’s Section 29 of the statutes that is most vital for Florida businesses to be aware of. If you’re dispensing MM then any legitimate patient will be able to present an ID card along with a physician’s certification. Issues like establishing standards to ensure proper security, testing, inspection, labelling, record keeping and overall safety are all detailed in full.
To ensure regulatory compliance, there are a number of insurance measures that are going to need considered for businesses in Florida. These recommendations are based on how other states are safeguarding themselves while our own moves forward.
Worker’s compensation – This is a prime consideration. Every business operating in Florida requires it. It’s not a requirement to take lightly given the danger to your staff and the steep fines this could incur.
Property insurance – To coin a phrase, you don’t want your MM business going up in smoke. Property insurance will cover you in the event of common named perils such as fire, theft and other damage. Some events will be covered under open peril, so check with your provider how they classify risks.
Crime insurance – It’s a sad fact that crime often comes from inside a business. MM will surely prove to be a very tempting product for employees to steal, so crime insurance should be in place. This will also help you cover against fraud, ransom, kidnap, extortion and counterfeit funds.
General liability insurance – This a great insurance for any business but especially one where visitors to your premises may at risk of harm. It will help you pay damages in the event of lawsuits arising from bodily injury (which can include mental damages and emotional distress). Other issues such as libel, slander and false arrest can also be covered under some general liability. Coverage will be dependent upon you having taken all required safety and security measures for your business prior to seeking this insurance.
Commercial Automobile Insurance – It’s possible that your business will have to deliver MM to some patients, who may be incapacitated because of a condition. Your vehicle will be very important here, so make sure to check that all possible risks such as damage and theft are considered.
Inland marine insurance – This coverage is designed to protect valuable goods in transit. Marijuana is a delicate substance and, again, could be a target for theft. If you’re looking to be on the extra-safe side, then a closer look at inland marine may be worth your while.
There is a wealth of insurance types to protect a business. Those involved in the medical care of the community have to take extra precautions to keep their customers and their reputation healthy. If MM is an area you’re involved in, make sure you’re protected with the right coverage.
With the Florida MM market set to boom in the next few years (projected figures are at over $1 billion by 2020), it’s best to stay close to the facts. The Office of Medical Marijuana Use is an excellent resource to help businesses and the public stay informed. It offers information on medical center locations, regulations, rules and law enforcement issues along with updates twice a week. Another very useful site can be found here. There are also further details on proposed regulations via the Florida Department of State.
Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you need any information, call us at 305-648-7070, request an insurance quote or contact us with any questions or comments.