The legal landscape surrounding cannabis is changing more rapidly than the Miami skyline, and new legislation is expanding the scope of marijuana use in Florida. This, however, doesn’t mean residents of the Sunshine State are in the clear…yet. There are many restrictions on who can buy and sell marijuana in the state. There are also restrictions on the type of cannabis products that are available for purchase. While this should not be considered legal advice, we’ve formulated a guide to help you better answer the big question: Is marijuana legal in Florida?
Medical Marijuana in Florida
Florida has recently repealed its ban on the use of medical marijuana. In 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 8A into law. This law allows the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients.
According to the bill, qualifying conditions include:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus.
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician.
- Chronic nonmalignant pain.
Marijuana may only be purchased from a Florida dispensary, known as a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center. The fee to register as a medical marijuana patient is $75.
“The qualified physician must determine that smoking is an appropriate route of administration for medical marijuana and have the patient sign an updated consent form before placing an order for medical marijuana in a form for smoking for the patient in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry.”
Medical cannabis patients are now permitted to receive up to 2.5 ounces of whole flower cannabis every 35 days. They may not possess more than 4 ounces at any given time. Patients under the age of 18 must have a terminal disease and receive the additional approval of a pediatrician to receive smokable cannabis.
Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Simply put, recreational marijuana is illegal in Florida. According to Florida Statutes, 775.082 and 775.083, possession or sale without remuneration of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense with a penalty of up to one year in prison and carries a maximum fine of $1000. Possession of paraphernalia is also a misdemeanor with the same maximum sentence.
The possession or sale of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony. This applies to both dry cannabis and live plants. Sentences increase based on the volume of marijuana. For example, possession of less than 25 pounds of marijuana or 25 cannabis plants carries up to a 5-year sentence and a $5000 fine. Possession of 2000 pounds or more is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $50,000 with a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years.
It is a felony to possess or sell hash or marijuana concentrates. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and a fine of $5000. A controlled substance conviction also results in a one-year driver’s license suspension according to Florida Statute 322.055.
Legal Cannabis – Hemp CBD
CBD has gained massive traction since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which formally removed hemp from the list of Schedule I controlled substances. In 2019, the state of Florida followed suit and passed Senate Bill 1020 to establish a state hemp program and define its parameters. According to the bill:
‘“Hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Hemp produced in accordance with this section is not cannabis as defined in s. 893.02.’
To put it more simply, CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC by weight to be considered legal. You can purchase these products without a prescription or medical marijuana ID because hemp CBD is non-psychoactive and only contains trace amounts of THC.
Federal Marijuana Laws
While many states have moved to expand the legality of medical and recreational marijuana, it still remains illegal to possess or distribute marijuana by federal law. According to the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance. Substances in this category are considered to have no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. Clearly the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana disagree with this categorization.
Previously, cannabis users and businesses could be federally penalized even if they were operating within state law. Luckily for these states, a congressional amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Interstate marijuana commerce is still prohibited.
Recent and Future Developments
Certain jurisdictions within Florida have moved to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. For example, Miami-Dade County passed a resolution that allows law enforcement officers to issue a civil citation and a $100 fine in lieu of a misdemeanor for possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less. This is at the officer’s discretion. Similar ordinances have been passed in Key West, Orlando, and other counties.
If you’re interested in legal cannabis in Florida, you may soon be in luck. Make It Legal Florida, a cannabis rights group, is circulating a petition to have an amendment added to the 2020 ballot. If this petition receives 766,200 signatures, the amendment would require a 60% approval to legalize recreational marijuana for users over the age of 21.
No, recreational marijuana is not legal in Florida. There are severe penalties for the possession and sale of non-medical marijuana. This may not be the case forever, though. Legislators and the general public are increasingly interested in the positive social and economic impacts of marijuana legalization. If you’re a Florida voter, make sure to check out the proposed amendment and don’t forget to vote!