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.
Florida medical marijuana cards involve some rules that patients must follow. First and foremost, patients must be Florida residents and have at least one of the state's official qualifying conditions. Patients must also keep their cards on them at all times. Finally, under Florida law, patients can purchase a maximum of 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana within a 35-day period.
In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card in the state of Florida, patients must have one of the following conditions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or any other "chronic or debilitating medical condition" approved by a doctor.
Minors with qualifying conditions may receive medical marijuana if they have parental consent and are under the care of a certified physician.
If you are a Florida resident and have been prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor, you will be able to legally purchase medical cannabis products from state-licensed dispensaries.
When you visit a dispensary, you will need to show your medical marijuana card and a valid photo ID. You will also need to provide the dispensary with the name of your doctor and the dosage of medical marijuana that has been prescribed. Dispensaries typically have a variety of medical marijuana products available for purchase, including oils, tinctures, edibles, and even topical applications.
Under Florida law, your health care practitioner, the Department of Health, and your pharmacist will have access to your medical marijuana records. However, these records will be kept confidential and will not be released to other individuals or entities without your consent.
Qualified Florida medical marijuana patients are legally permitted to possess up to four ounces of medical marijuana. Even if you are a card-carrying Florida medical marijuana patient, though, it's still illegal to buy, possess, or use recreational marijuana in the state of Florida.
It is illegal for cardholders or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana in Florida. Doing so can result in felony charges.
Florida has one of the most stringent laws in the country when it comes to selling marijuana. The state has a "zero tolerance" policy for anyone caught selling the drug, regardless of the amount that is found on them. This means that anyone caught selling marijuana can face felony charges, which can lead to prison time and hefty fines.
In addition, the state also has a "cannabis tracking system" in place to make sure that all marijuana sold in the state is accounted for. This system requires all sellers to register with the state and keep track of their sales.
Unfortunately, the state of Florida does not currently offer reciprocity. That means that patients from other states cannot use their medical marijuana cards to purchase medical cannabis at Florida dispensaries. In addition, transporting medical cannabis across state lines is still illegal since the federal government has not yet recognized its legality.
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.