Ever since the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, medical cannabis advocates across the country have fought to loosen these restrictions. Florida’s legislative history surrounding medical cannabis is no exception to this advocacy.
The journey to medical marijuana in the Sunshine State was long and difficult. This process took several years, three main pieces of legislation, and science to help qualifying patients receive the care they need.
Prior to 2014, all forms of cannabis were illegal in Florida -- including marijuana for medical use. This began to change in 2014, when then-Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act into law.
This legislation allowed patients to use a specific type of low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), high cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis oil from a strain called Charlotte’s Web. Patients with epilepsy, cancer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were the only ones who qualified for this treatment.
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act did not provide wide-ranging cannabis legalization, but it did create an entry point for future legislation. In 2015, Florida’s Right to Try Act allowed physicians to provide experimental treatments to seriously-ill patients, and in 2016, the state added low THC medical cannabis to the list of approved medicines.
Once the state approved certain forms of cannabis for medical use, advocates pushed for the Florida government to reduce restrictions. The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Amendment 2, is a piece of legislation that aimed to expand the list of qualifying conditions, establish the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), and establish a statewide registry known as the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR).
In 2016, more than 70% of Florida voters voted in favor of Amendment 2, and the state began to implement the legislation. However, Amendment 2 continued to limit how patients can consume cannabis; smokable marijuana was prohibited, and patients could only use edibles, vapes, oils, pills, and sprays.
Access to dried cannabis flower was the next barrier Florida medical marijuana advocates needed to break. They brought their concerns to the courtroom, and the law ruled in favor of the advocates. In 2018, a judge in Leon County Circuit Court found that the ban on smokable marijuana was unconstitutional and ordered the Florida government to overturn the provision.
In 2019, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed Session Bill 182 into law, which repealed the ban on smoking cannabis for medical patients. Now, physicians can recommend dried cannabis to patients who qualify, further increasing access to vital treatment.
Many people have fought for the medical cannabis rights of Florida patients, and if you believe you qualify for a MMUR registration card, the Sanctuary Wellness Institute can help.
Our staff members understand the Florida medical marijuana application process and can answer any questions you may have. We also offer evaluations with licensed Florida physicians, connecting you with Florida medical marijuana doctors who have the credentials necessary to certify your condition.
Contact us today to schedule your evaluation and learn more about the application process.