Coronavirus and Cannabis: Florida Regulatory Updates

By Sally Kent Peebles

Mar 22, 2020

This VS Insight is dedicated to updates regarding the coronavirus and cannabis in Florida. For updates on other states or coronavirus-related issues, see our main post on the subject, "Coronavirus and Cannabis: Monitoring the Impact."

Cannabis regulations are in flux across the U.S. as officials at every level of government work to contain the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Vicente Sederberg is closely monitoring the situation, and we are communicating with regulators to understand how these local, state and federal responses may affect cannabis business operators, medical patients, and other cannabis consumers. We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our clients and the public updated as we learn of new developments, but please note this is an extremely fluid situation and there is a lot we do not know. This VS Insights post is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. We strongly encourage you to contact an attorney if you are seeking advice regarding any specific legal or tax issue.


LATEST UPDATES

April 1, 2020

  • Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91, effective Friday, April 3, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. ET. This “Safer at Home” order states that senior citizens and individuals with underlying medical conditions must stay at home to limit exposure to COVID-19. It also directs all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or activities. “Essential services” shall mean and encompass the list detailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as other essential services that may be added by the Florida State Health Officer.

    • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has not issued any clear guidance regarding whether medical marijuana treatment centers are specifically deemed essential, and the Office of Medical Marijuana Use website does not currently note any closures. At this time, medical marijuana dispensaries appear to be permitted to stay open to serve patients, both at their retail dispensary locations and through delivery, as long as social distancing measures are properly followed.

  • Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued Executive Order 2020-5, ordering all non-essential businesses closed effective Friday, April 3 at 12:01 a.m. ET. The order does not specifically include medical marijuana dispensaries as essential, but it does note that various types of healthcare providers are essential.

March 22, 2020

  • Broward County issued Emergency Order 20-01, ordering all nonessential retail and commercial business locations to close except to perform minimum basic operations. The Order clarifies that medical cannabis facilities are deemed essential and are therefore not subject to the Order, and therefore may remain open with proper social distancing protocols in place.

March 19, 2020

  • As of March 19, 2020, at 10:00AM EST, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has not issued any specific guidance related to medical marijuana treatment center dispensary restrictions or potential closures. The DOH website provides interim guidance for Businesses and Employers, as well as an interactive map reflecting the location of confirmed cases.

March 17, 2020

  • Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida public school closures will be extended through April 15, 2010.

March 16, 2020

  • Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has tested positive for the virus, directed that all restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms must close effective Tuesday, March 17 at 11pm. Restaurants may keep their kitchens open for take-out, drive-through, drive-in and delivery.

  • Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, M.D. issued an Emergency Order, stating that “for purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, qualified physicians under section 381.986 F.S, may issue a physician certification only for an existing qualified patient with an existing certification that was issued by that qualified physician without the need to conduct a physical examination while physically present in the same room.” This telehealth substitution exception only applies for a period of thirty days, unless extended by order.

March 9, 2020

  • Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52, declaring a State of Emergency exists, further enhancing Florida’s ability to respond to COVID-19, including:

    • Directing the Adjutant General to activate the Florida National Guard as needed to deal with this emergency;
    • Allowing pharmacists to dispense up to a 30-day emergency prescription refill of maintenance medicines;
    • Permitting out of state licensed medical professionals and workers, social workers and counselors to provide volunteer services to the DOH and the Red Cross.