Cannabis laws in Florida have had a very positive outlook on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. However, the case is not much when it comes to recreational use of marijuana. Cannabis remains illegal for recreational use and individuals who are caught possessing the substance can get fines and potentially even jail time.
We will explore the existing cannabis laws in Florida, the history of how medical cannabis came to be legalized and other regulations which might come in favor late for complete decriminalization of marijuana in Florida.
History of Cannabis Laws in Florida
In 2014, the state of Florida passed a bill that carried the name Charlotte’s Web. With this bill, the state of Florida made cannabis consumption legal for parents who have serious diseases such as cancer, severe cases of epilepsy and similar. The name of the bill comes after a marijuana strain called Charlotte’s web which was specially designed to tackle conditions such as severe epilepsy and Dravet syndrome. However, the substance is highly controlled and medical users of marijuana are only allowed to use marijuana strains and products that have low THC levels.
It is easy to make out of what was previously stated that marijuana is still considered an illegal substance for recreational use according to cannabis laws in Florida On top of that, even for medical purposes, the restrictions and procedures are highly restricting.
When the bill was passed in 2014, the state of Florida and its Department of Health (DOH) introduced a new legal entity – the named the office of compassionate Use (OCS) in order to regulate and oversee the state’s medical marijuana program.
Medical Cannabis Florida via Vista Green Group
In 2015, the legislation was signed which allowed medical marijuana to be sold to patients. Later on, in 2016, a petition was signed to give more importance and significance to marijuana as a cure for different illnesses. The petition stated that the range of products available to patients should be made broader, as well as that it is needed to open more centers where marijuana will be considered a mean of treatment. Act 2, which is still not fully implemented got 70% of the votes to pass.
Patients who qualify according to the cannabis laws in Florida can get access to medical marijuana. They, however, need to be over the age of 18. Patients who are under the age of 18 rely on their caregivers, parent or legal guardians to go through the procedure and receiving a medical marijuana ID card so they can buy cannabis on the behalf of the minor.
Cannabis laws in Florida also have a clause on people who do not have permanent resident status in the state of Florida. If a person has been in Florida for over 31 days, is registered to vote and it is a permanent resident on of another state where they hold a valid medical marijuana ID card cans till obtaining cannabis even in this state.
Only marijuana that has a low THC level is considered as medical marijuana and it is decriminalized. As a low THC marijuana is considered if it has under 0.8% THC count. The CBD count is also taken into consideration and as stated, it needs to be over 10%
Where Can You Buy Medical Cannabis In Florida?
Cannabis laws in Florida state that you can buy medical cannabis in Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers if you hold a valid medical marijuana ID card. Such centers can only give out 70 days supply at a time. Edibles are legal according to cannabis laws in Florida yet they can only be made with infused cannabis oil.
Florida and Marijuana via Florida Weekly
All aspects in regard to cannabis production, sale and consumptions are tax exempt. The medical marijuana treatment centers also offer delivery services and they are not limited by law in terms of the location. The delivery charges differ depending on the medical marijuana treatment center that is delivering cannabis.
It is advised that holders of a valid medical marijuana ID cards should have their cards with them at all times. Medical marijuana treatments centers require hem as a proof of purchase and law enforcement is entitled to ask to see your card if they have their suspicions about the legality of the purchase or if you are caught in possession with it.
There is also a state database of all medical marijuana users in Florida where transactions are stored.
Medical marijuana is prohibited to be smoked in accordance to the cannabis laws in Florida. Users of cannabis can take edibles, oils, pills tinctures, flower, and other forms but only if it is used for vaping. Medical cannabis consumption needs to be done in a private place. Consuming cannabis at a public place, workplace (unless the employer agrees to it), in a vehicle, in proximity to schools or places of worship is prohibited.
In 2018, there was an attempt to overturn the decision that medical marijuana cannot be smoked and change the cannabis laws in Florida. The attempts were unsuccessful so the ban on smoking marijuana still remains.
Cannabis Possession Limitations
The only type of cannabis that is allowed to legally possess even for medical marijuana users is low THC cannabis. To be considered as such, the cannabis needs to have a low percentage of THC i.e. less than 0.8% and more than 10% CBD measured by weight.
The cannabis laws in Florida state that medical marijuana is not to be transferred to other users for any purposes apart from transportation to a patient by a caregiver or guardian.
Another very limiting circumstance stated by the law is that medical marijuana must not be removed from the original packaging. Dispensaries are allowed to give out up to a 70-day supply of medical marijuana to the holder of medical marijuana ID cards.
Florida Marijuana Regulations via USA Today
How To Register as a Medical Marijuana User?
The Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) is in charge of licensing businesses to produce, distribute and process marijuana for medical patients as appointed by the cannabis laws in Florida. This legal entity is overseen by the OMMU which is authorized by the Florida Department of Health. Initially, the Medical Marijuana Use Registry was called Compassionate Use Registry in relation to the name of the bill that was passed to legalize marijuana for medical use.
The registry of this legal entity is accessible online by authorized physicians and qualifying patients. All of the qualifying users have their unique ID numbers and they are stored together with information about the patients, such as date of birth, gender, and weight.
The cannabis laws in Florida state that in order to qualify as a medical marijuana user, you need to be diagnosed by an authorized physician with one of the following qualifying conditions:
Some other conditions to become a medical marijuana user are stated by the cannabis laws in Florida and include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Cannabis in Florida via Cannabis News Box
The procedure for submitting the application to become a medical marijuana user, as stated by the cannabis laws in Florida, is the following:
- Get a written statement from a qualifying physician as to why cannabis treatment is recommended after the diagnosis on one of the above conditions
- If the physician determines that the patient is terminally ill or is the patient is under the age of 18, get an opinion from a second physician in order to confirm the diagnosis
- The physician fills in the information and sends it to the MMUR via email
- The MMUR emails the patient back with the application form and assigns them an ID number
- The patient fills in the application and sends it back to the MMUR and pays the $75 fee
- The MMUR notifies the patient via email whether their application was successful
- If it is, the patient will receive temporary access to medical cannabis using the approval email until they receive the medical marijuana ID card in the post
It is highly advisable for a medical marijuana user to always carry their ID cards since they might be asked to show it by law enforcement if they have any suspicions and if they want to confirm that you are indeed a qualifying medical marijuana user approved by the state. This is allowed in accordance to the cannabis laws in Florida.
All medical marijuana ID cards have a validity of one year. To renew the ID card, the patient needs to fill in the application and send it to the MMUR no later than 45 days before the existing card expires as stated by the cannabis laws in Florida.
Laws for Caregivers in Florida
Patients are allowed to appoint a designated caregiver when they are filing their application with the MMUR according to the cannabis laws in Florida. A designated caregiver has the right to purchase medical marijuana on behalf of the patient.
For a caregiver to qualify, they need to be:
- Over the age of 21
- Permanent residents of the state of Florida
- Hold a valid driver’s license, ID card or utility bills to serve as a proof of address
- Not to be a qualifying physician
- Not to have any direct or direct financial interest in an MMTC or a cannabis testing laboratory
Medical Cannabis Florida via EpilepsyU
The process to register as a caregiver is the following:
- Be appointed as a designated caregiver by the patient when they are submitting their application for a medical marijuana ID card
- The OMMU emails the caregiver the application form and gives them instructions on how to fill it in
- The OMMU gives out an ID number to the caregiver
- The caregiver submits the application form and pays the $75 fee
- When the application is approved, the caregiver can use the email of approval sent by the OMMU to temporary buy cannabis for the patient until the medical marijuana ID card comes in the post
The renewal process is the same for the caregiver as for the patient – they need to request a renewal at least 45 days before the existing one expires according to the cannabis labs in Florida.
Cannabis Lab Testing in Florida
The cannabis testing procedures in Florida are in effect, yet not fully as at the moment more regulations are being developed. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are working on regulations for cannabis laboratory testing that are yet to take place.
Still, testing is being carried out even now since all of the licensed producers and MMTC must submit samples for testing in a certified lab in accordance with the cannabis laws in Florida. During the testing, the samples need to be checked if they are suitable for consumption by patients. Testers are also looking to see what are the cannabinoids ratios in every same in order to conclude if the sampled cannabis meet the strict criteria of what classifies as medical marijuana.
The cannabis that comes to the lab is tested for pesticides, bacteria, and potency.
Cannabis testing labs in Florida can also be private yet they need to be verified and licensed by the state. In order for a lab to be qualified and recognized by the state of Florida, an application needs to be submitted to the OMMU. The labs need to completely independent and not have any financial interest or benefit from an MMTC.
If the application is approved, the OMMU will release a license to the testing lab and they can start operation. All licenses are valid for two years and they need to be renewed afterward in accordance with the cannabis laws in Florida.
Cannabis Dispensary in Florida via MJobServer
As you can see, the cannabis laws in Florida are highly limiting even for medical marijuana patients. There are a lot of regulations and controls are strict, having an online database of all the patients. As for recreational use, marijuana is far from being legal. Up to this moment, there have been no clear intentions to completely decriminalize marijuana. Still, with many states having already legalized or are in the process of loosening up the regulations, maybe Florida will also follow.