Florida Medical Marijuana | 2020
About The Florida Medical Marijuana Program
The Florida Marijuana Program: In the elections of November, 2016, a constitutional amendment was passed to permit the use of medical marijuana in Florida by patients suffering from a list of serious medical conditions. The bill passed by a landslide with 71 percent of voters in favor. Amendment 2 superseded a previous law which allowed the use of low-THC cannabis extracts to treat a short list of potentially life-threatening conditions.
There are now over 325k Floridians with active medical marijuana cards, over 2500 doctors in Florida are certified to recommend, and the number of open cannabis dispensaries is over 232. Many doctors are subscribing to the fact that cannabis might be a much safer and effective treatment for your condition than traditional pharmaceuticals.
Florida Marijuana Laws - The History
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.
Smokable Whole Flower In Florida
Senate Bill 182, which amends our medical marijuana program, was signed into law on March, 18th, 2019…effective immediately.
Patients have to visit their recommending MedCard doctor before receiving the addition for smoked flower to their recommendation. Doctor’s may refuse to recommend smoked forms of MMJ depending on your condition.
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.
FL Marijuana Update: Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Essential Business: Florida Marijuana Dispensaries
Florida counties that have been effected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have deemed medical marijuana to be an essential service. Currently, dispensaries have implemented:
Online Marijuana Card Renewals Using Telemedicine
On March 16, 2020, Emergency Order 20-002 went into effect allowing Florida’s medical marijuana patients to complete follow-up doctor visits using Telemedicine. Patients can be re-certified for another 7 months without having to leave home.
For active medcard patients that want to use telemedicine:
- Visit website and schedule a telemedicine appointment.
- Visit with doctor online.
- Florida Marijuana Telehealth
For new patients that want do not want to go to a doctors office, some doctors are offering a 3 step process for NEW PATIENT consultations.
- Visit website and set up a telemedicine appointment…
- First appointment will take place online will be a virtual consult followed by…
- In person visit to conduct a physical exam done from of your car.
Patient Registration Form
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 call you.
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. And patients had to have tried traditional treatments to ease their suffering before they could be considered eligible for the program.
After numerous attempts to expand the program since it’s introduction 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 including a system of vertically integrated cannabis companies which are licensed to both produce and sell cannabis products.
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.
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.
Where To Buy Medical Marijuana in Florida
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 2022.