In mid-March 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 182 into law. This bill authorized the use of smokeable medical marijuana, an amendment making Florida’s medical marijuana law slightly more flexible.
Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Florida. Here is everything you need to know about the Sunshine State’s medical cannabis laws.
Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions
Patients with one or more of the following medical conditions may be eligible to participate in Florida’s MMJ program:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or compared to those listed above.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain
Florida’s law allows conditions that are not listed above to qualify a patient if the patient’s doctor believes that the benefits of using medical marijuana for that condition would outweigh the risks.
Applying for A Medical Marijuana Card in Florida
In order to participate in Florida’s MMJ program, patients must obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Card. Patients with a qualifying debilitating medical condition and their caregivers must submit an application every year to keep their Medical Marijuana Use Registry Card active.
The first step in the application process is to find a medical marijuana-qualified physician. Prospective patients can use a database provided by the Florida Department of Health to contact one of these doctors. The database includes almost 3,000 Florida doctors specializing in a range of practices including oncology, gynecology, dermatology, and family care.
An appointment with a marijuana qualified physician should be intensive. Patients can expect a full medical history and examinations. Although it may seem more convenient to find a doctor who will have you in and out in a few minutes (or even give you an exam remotely), it is more beneficial to meet with a doctor who seeks to have a comprehensive understanding of your health needs and how cannabis may be able to meet those. A medical marijuana exam is not covered by insurance, so patients can expect to pay a number between $160 to $300. The price depends on the physician.
Once the patient has been given a qualifying diagnosis, they will receive credentials from the physician giving them access to the application online. You can also fill out a paper application and deliver it by mail. The first-time application and renewal fee is $75. The application should be processed in about 10 days.
Once approved, a medical marijuana card will be valid for one year.
In addition to issuing a certification for the patient authorizing their inclusion on the Compassionate Use Registry, the physician will give the patient a recommendation guiding the quantity of cannabis they should use.
Possession and Purchasing Limits
Medical marijuana can be purchased from a state-licensed medical marijuana treatment center. You can use the Florida Department of Health’s search tool to find a medical marijuana treatment center near you.
A patient’s purchasing limit is based on the recommendation they receive from their physician. A dispensary will not sell more cannabis than the physician’s recommendation dictates. The physician’s recommendation can last the patient for up to 70 days. If the recommendation states that the patient can have 5 ounces of cannabis, it means that the patient cannot purchase more than 5 ounces for the duration of 70 days. However, the patient does not have to purchase the entire recommendation amount at one time. In fact, patients cannot purchase more than 35 days’ worth of cannabis at a time.
Minors and adults are eligible to participate in the medical marijuana program. However, minors must have written consent from their legal guardian along with certification from two doctors instead of only one.
Florida allows the consumption of oral, sublingual, topical, rectal, smokeable, and vaporized low or high-THC cannabis. However, patients must receive specific certification from their doctors authorizing the use of smokeable marijuana if that is the delivery route the patient prefers.
Low THC cannabis includes pot that contains less than 0.8 percent THC and high CBD. This form of cannabis can be consumed publicly. High-THC cannabis includes pot containing more than 0.8 percent THC.
Florida’s law does not allow the public consumption of cannabis. It also prohibits the smoking of cannabis in any enclosed indoor workspace as dictated by the Florida Clean Indoor Act.
Cannabis can be consumed in a medical patient’s private residence. However, renters should be aware that property owners may restrict the use of cannabis on their property. Cannabis consumption is also permitted in nursing homes, hospices, or assisted living facilities as long as this is authorized by the facility’s policies.
Cannabis Transport and Delivery
Patients can travel with cannabis in their vehicles as long as the passengers cannot access it. The safest place to store cannabis while driving is in an unopened package contained in the trunk.
Cannabis delivery services are available by state-licensed medical marijuana treatment centers.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis. Florida officers will use observation and field tests to determine if a driver is impaired by cannabis. Penalties include fines, driver’s license suspension, and jail time.
Federal and state laws prohibit the export of cannabis across state lines.
Personal cultivation is prohibited in Florida. Patients can only access cannabis from a state-licensed medical marijuana treatment center.
Florida Weed Laws: A Timeline
2016 – Amendment 2 is passed, authorizing certified patients to recommend low-THC cannabis for patients with qualifying debilitating medical conditions.
2019 – Gov. DeSantis ends the prohibition of smokeable cannabis by signing SB 182 into law.