Medical Marijuana in Florida
About the Florida Regulated Cannabis Program
Florida Marijuana: In the elections of November, 2016, a constitutional amendment was passed to permit the use of medical marijuana in Florida. Since then…
There are now over 700k Floridians with active medical marijuana cards, over 2800 doctors in Florida are certified to recommend, and the number of Open FL dispensaries has crossed 500. If we were talking about this in 2014, No Way. This guide will bring you up to speed if you are unfamiliar with Floridas medical marijuana program.
Smokable Whole Flower In Florida
It took a minute, actually years, although smokable flower in Florida was added by state law to the acceptable forms of use.
Senate Bill 182, was signed into law on March, 18th, 2019.
SB 182 outlined many things, it…
Repeals the prohibition on Dispensaries selling cannabis flower by redefining the term “medical use”.
The Florida DOH requires patients to see the doctor in-person for access to smokable marijuana.
Requires the ordering physician to report what other forms of cannabis the patient has used.
Patients cannot submit a change order request themselves, or just call the doctor to get this added via the phone.
Requires physicians to write a new order every 35 days.
Requires the Board of Medicine to create practice standards.
Prohibits the ordering of smokable cannabis bud for smoking for patients under 18 unless they are terminal and have a pediatrician who agrees with smokable whole flower marijuana as an effective treatment.
Limits the amount of flower a patient can buy every 35 days to 2.5 ounces.
The total amount of flower/bud a qualified patient can possess to 4 ounces.
Prohibits MMTC’s from using tobacco or hemp papers in pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes.
Smoking accessories can be purchased at most cannabis dispensaries. If you don’t have a dispensary close by, or you live in a state that has none, many smoke and vape shops carry papers, pipes, bongs, and other accessories. These products can all be purchased online as well.
Infused Marijuana Edible Rules
Florida Marijuana edibles must be added to your recommendation by your MMJ doctor
Edibles may be produced in the form of baked goods, candy, chocolate, drink powders, etc.
To minimize attraction to children, edibles in Florida cannot be produced in primary or bright colors.
The use of natural or artificial colors is prohibited.
Edibles may not be produced in any shapes other than simple geometric shapes such as a square, circle, rectangle and triangle.
Products may not bear any markings, symbols, images, graphics, or words.
Products may not be decorated with icing, sprinkles, or other toppings of any kind.
Edibles must not resemble any commercially available candy.
Packages must bear the universal THC symbol.
Packages must list the amount of cannabinoids in the product.
A single serving of an edible may not exceed 10 milligrams of THC
A multi-serving edible cannot exceed a total of 200 milligrams THC.
Florida Edibles manufacturers must obtain a food preparation permit.
Florida Marijuana Cards
Steps To Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida
Step 1 - Make an Appointment With a State-Certified Medical Marijuana Doctor
Once you decide upon a doctor with whom you’d like to make an appointment, the next step is simple. Call them and tell them you want to make an appointment. You can also Fill Out The Patient Registration Form, and one will contact you as available.
MMJ Patient Registration Form
Step 2 — Talk To The Doc
It should go without saying that you should arrive at your appointment on time and make sure you have your medical records and I.D. If all goes well, the doctor will see you shortly.
The doc will ask you a series of questions about your ailment including your diagnosis, what symptoms you’re experiencing, which treatments you’ve tried in the past, what you’re doing currently to treat your condition, and anything else they deem relevant. If the doctor determines that you are, indeed, eligible for the Florida medical marijuana program they’ll enter your info into the Florida Marijuana Use Registry which is run by the Florida Department of Health.
Your doctor will determine an optimal THC dosage and flower limit which in turn sets a limit to how much product you are allowed to buy each month. A doctor may also limit your meds to low-THC products if he or she thinks there might be safety issues with the use of high-THC products.
Step 4 — Complete Your Application Online
Once you’ve gotten the all clear from the doc, and you’ve been added to the Medical Marijuana Use Registry you’ll still need to complete the process online before you receive a card by mail.
You’ll also be required to remit a $75 application fee.
What are the Qualifying Conditions in Florida for Getting a Medical Marijuana Card?
When Florida first enacted a very limited medical marijuana program back in 2014, the only qualifying medical condition was severe epilepsy or a terminal illness. Voters approved an initiative in 2016 which amended the state’s constitution to not only expand the medical qualifications of the program but also to create a state-regulated medical marijuana market.
Here’s the current list of qualifying conditions list in Florida:
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those above
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
- Additional Conditions That Have Qualified Patients
In addition to these qualifying conditions, doctors may approve a similar illness for which they deem medical marijuana will be effective. This essentially takes the decision of who gets to use medical marijuana out of the hands of Florida lawmakers and puts in the hands of doctors, where it belongs.
The History of Florida Marijuana Laws
Several attempts were made to legalize medical marijuana in Florida between 1978 and 2014 with no success. Then, in 2014, Florida legislators passed the “Charlotte’s Web” bill, a measure which allowed the use of low-THC, high-CBD extracts for the purpose of treating a short list of serious conditions such as intractable epilepsy. Lawmakers expanded the program in 2016 to permit terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana, with no restrictions on THC levels. The first dispensary of low-THC cannabis didn’t open until July of 2016.
That same year, advocates were able to get the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” onto the November 2014 ballot. The bill fell just 2.5% short of the 60% of yes votes needed to pass the constitutional amendment.
The next year, in 2015, a number of municipalities including Miami-Dade County, Tampa, Key West, and Orlando began allowing officers to cite adults found in possession of marijuana rather than arrest them.
Things began to change in 2016 when Amendment 2 passed with a popular vote of 71%. The legislation established a full-blown medical marijuana program. Then, in special session, the senate passed bill SB8A which created strict regulations that applied to Amendment 2, such as making it illegal to purchase dried flower and to grow cannabis at home.
In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. That same year, two bills were introduced to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. However, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee “temporarily postponed” review of the bills.
In the spring of 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers heard a case brought by People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care on behalf of two medical patients which challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options and prohibit the use of dried cannabis flower. Judge Grievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the smokable forms of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.”
On March 18th, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed smokable marijuana in Florida into law.
Florida Recreational Marijuana Penalties
Amendment 2 did not change Florida’s drug possession laws. The possession of 20 grams of weed or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 20 grams of is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Sale or delivery of marijuana is a felony. If perpetrated within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified area it is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
However, as mentioned above, some Florida municipalities have opted to essentially decriminalize personal use of marijuana. Orlando, for example, allows police officers to write citations rather than arresting offenders. For the possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less, an officer can choose to write a citation with a $100 fine for first-time offenders, or $200 for a second offense. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $500 and have to appear in court.
In certain jurisdictions, payment of the citation constitutes admission of guilt and can still result in a criminal record.
When is recreational marijuana likely to become legal in Florida? Some experts and advocates are predicting that a recreational marijuana referendum will appear on the state ballot in 2023.