Florida Medical Marijuana Laws

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Governor Rick Scott signed Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (Chapter 381.986, Florida Statutes) into law on June 16, 2014. The Act authorized specified physicians to order low-THC cannabis for qualified patients beginning on January 1, 2015. A participating physician must be licensed under Chapter 458 and 459 of the Florida Statutes, attend an 8-hour training course, and pass an examination before they can order low-THC cannabis for a patient. Under Florida law, low-THC cannabis is defined as a product or derivative of cannabis which contains 0.8% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and more than 10% cannabidiol (CBD). The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act is limited in the specific conditions that can be treated with low-TCH cannabis and does not allow for the smoking of cannabis. Rather, it allows qualified patients to ingest cannabis via other methods, such as extracts or a physician-prescribed vaporizer.

 

On March 25, 2016 Governor Scott signed HB 307, which expanded the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act to allow for terminally ill patients (defined as expected to die within a year without life-sustaining procedures) to ingest all forms of medical cannabis. HB 307 also added the requirement that medical cannabis users register with the Florida Department of Health’s Compassionate Use Registry and obtain a medical cannabis ID card. Florida’s first low-THC cannabis dispensary opened in Tallahassee on July 26, 2016.

On November 08, 2016 Florida voters will decide whether or not to pass Amendment 2, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would allow for greater use of medical marijuana within the state. Amendment 2 was placed on the ballot by United for Care, a group that placed a similar failed measure (also called Amendment 2) on the 2014 ballot. Under the California Constitution, in order for Amendment 2 to become law it must be approved by at least 60% of Florida voters.

FLORIDA MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATISTICS AND FACTS

  • Florida currently has 6 medical marijuana dispensaries that are approved by the Department of Health.
  • Florida law allows caregivers to operate on a patient’s behalf. Caregivers must be a “healthcare surrogate acting pursuant to the qualifying patient’s written consent” and must register with the Department of Health. The name of the patient they are assisting must be listed on their caregiver ID card.
  • According to ArcView Group, a California-based cannabis research and investment firm, by 2020 medical marijuana could be a $1.5 billion industry in Florida and represent a 7% share of the total U.S. legal cannabis market.
  • Before being licensed to grow, process, and dispense medical cannabis in Florida, a dispensary must show that they have been a plant nursery for at least 30 years and have grown at least 400,000 plants.
  • Florida employers cannot deny you a job because you are registered with the Compassionate Use Registry.
  • Beginning in June 2015, several Florida cities and counties began passing ordinances allowing for civil rather than criminal penalties for minor marijuana offenses. Most of these ordinances impose a $100 fine for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

THE COMPASSIONATE USE REGISTRY

The Florida Department of Health’s Office of Compassionate Use maintains the Compassionate Use Registry, a state-run online registration system for medical cannabis patients and ordering physicians. It is accessible by law enforcement, physicians, and medical cannabis dispensaries to verify the legitimacy of one’s right to access, possess, and ingest medical cannabis and its derivatives within the State of Florida. Participation in the Compassionate Use Registry is mandatory and requires one to obtain a medical cannabis ID card. The Compassionate Use Registry’s website is located at http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/compassionate-use-registry/index.html.

HOW TO QUALIFY FOR LOW-THC CANNABIS IN FLORIDA

  • You must be a permanent Florida resident
  • You must suffer from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • You must have previously tried other treatments without success
  • You must have an ordering physician who has determined that the risks of using low‐THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the benefits
  • You must be registered by your ordering physician as a patient in the Compassionate Use Registry
  • You must have a relationship with a physician who maintains a patient treatment plan outlining the dose, route of administration, and planned duration. The physician must also monitor your illness and tolerance to the low‐THC cannabis and submit the plan to the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy on a quarterly basis for research purposes
  • You must have been treated by your recommending physician for at least three months immediately preceding the recommendation for low-THC cannabis
  • If you are under 18 years of age, a second physician must agree with the determination of need for use of low-THC cannabis

HOW TO QUALIFY AS A TERMINALLY ILL PATIENT APPROVED FOR ALL FORMS OF CANNABIS IN FLORIDA

  • You must be a permanent Florida resident
  • You must be registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by your ordering physician
  • You must have a terminal condition that is attested to by your physician and confirmed by a second, independent evaluation by a board-certified physician with a specialty for that condition
  • You must have considered all other treatment options for your terminal condition that are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • You must have an ordering physician who has determined that the risks of using medical cannabis are reasonable in light of the benefits
  • You must have given written, informed consent for the use of an investigational drug, biological product or device
  • You must have been treated by your recommending physician for at least three months immediately preceding the recommendation for medical cannabis
  • You must have a relationship with a physician who maintains a patient treatment plan outlining the dose, route of administration, and planned duration. The physician must also monitor your illness and tolerance to medical cannabis and submit the plan to the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy on a quarterly basis for research purposes
  • You must have obtained documentation from your treating physician that you meet all of these requirements

HOW TO APPLY FOR A LOW-THC OR MEDICAL CANNABIS ID CARD IN FLORIDA

Under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, a qualified patient must be placed on the Compassionate Use Registry by an approved physician who has satisfied the requirements for recommending low-TCH or medical cannabis for patients. Patients cannot register themselves. A list of state-approved physicians who are eligible to recommend that a patient be placed on the Compassionate Use Registry can be found here.

HOW TO ORDER LOW-THC OR MEDICAL CANNABIS IN FLORIDA

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act only allows approved physicians to order low-THC or medical cannabis for qualified patients. A patient cannot order low-THC or medical cannabis for themselves. A physician is limited to ordering no more than a 45-day supply and must update the Compassionate Use Registry to reflect the amount ordered. The Act also requires all cannabis delivery devices to be ordered by a qualified physician and the ordering of such devices must be entered into the Registry. A list of physicians who are qualified to order low-THC or medical cannabis for qualified patients can be found here.

CONTACT THE OFFICE OF COMPASSIONATE USE

Florida Department of Health Office of Compassionate Use
4052 Bald Cypress Way
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Telephone: (850) 245-4657
Email: CompassionateUse@flhealth.gov

MEDICAL CANNABIS DISPENSARIES IN FLORIDA

The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act required the Department of Health to establish and maintain a tracking system that traces low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis from seed to sale. The tracking system includes notification of key events, including when cannabis seeds are planted, when cannabis plants are harvested and destroyed, and when low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis is transported, sold, stolen, diverted, or lost. Dispensaries cannot dispense low-THC or medical cannabis or cannabis delivery devices from their premises between the hours of 9pm and 7am, but may perform all other operations and deliver low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis to qualified patients 24 hours each day.

There are currently 6 dispensaries* authorized by the Florida Department of Health to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC and medical cannabis:

Click here to see a map of Florida’s 6 approved dispensing organizations and the various state regions that they represent.

*The application period for dispensing organization approval ended on July 08, 2015. The Department of Health is not currently accepting applications to become a dispensing organization. Redacted copies of previously submitted applications, scorecards, and response letters to applicants can be found here

CULTIVATION AND POSSESSION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN FLORIDA

Current Florida State law does not allow low-THC and medical marijuana patients to grow their own marijuana plants. All approved patients must have their physician order their cannabis from one of the state’s 6 licensed dispensaries. Physicians are limited to ordering no more than a 45-day supply of low-THC or medical cannabis, which cannot be sold, gifted, or otherwise transferred to anyone other than the qualified patient or their legal representative.

A patient who has been approved for the use of low-THC or medical cannabis may not use or administer cannabis:

  • On any form of public transportation
  • In any public place
  • In a state correctional institute
  • In the qualified patient’s place of employment if restricted by their employer
  • On the grounds of a preschool, primary school or secondary school

THE COMPASSIONATE MEDICAL CANNABIS ACT

Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act (Chapter 381.986, Florida Statutes) was originally passed on June 16, 2014 and amended on March 25, 2016. The Act allows approved physicians to order low-THC and medical cannabis for qualified patients who have been diagnosed with certain conditions. It does not allow patients to ingest marijuana through smoking, but does allow physicians to order vaporizers for patients through approved dispensaries. Patients may not grow their own marijuana plants and must have a physician register them on the Compassionate Use Registry and order their low-THC or medical marijuana for them.

Read the Full Text of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.

AMENDMENT 2 ON THE NOVEMBER 08, 2016 BALLOT IN FLORIDA

On November 08, 2016 Florida voters will decide whether or not to pass Amendment 2, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. Amendment 2 was placed on the ballot when United for Care submitted 716,270 valid signatures of Florida voters, exceeding the "683,149" required to place an initiative on the ballot. If approved by at least 60% of voters, the initiative would greatly expand Florida’s medical marijuana laws. Specifically, Amendment 2 would allow medical marijuana as a treatment for 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
  • any other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated

Amendment 2 Ballot Title: Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions

Amendment 2 Ballot Summary: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Read the Full Text of Amendment 2 that will appear on the November 2016 Florida ballot.

FLORIDA RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA LAWS

The following information is for the non-medical/recreational use of marijuana. Refer to FLORIDA MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS  for information about medical marijuana laws in Florida.

Florida does not currently have any recreational medical marijuana laws. There was a failed attempt by Regulate Florida to place The Florida Cannabis Act on the November 2016 ballot, which would have legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by residents 21 years of age and older. The Florida Cannabis Act would have also allowed residents to grow up to 6 marijuana plants per household and sought to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Regulate Florida announced in December 2015 that it would not be able to collect enough valid signatures to place the initiative on the 2016 ballot. Campaign manager Michael Minardi said, “We had an uphill battle, honestly with getting a million signatures realistically from the end of August until December. We did believe with the movement and the momentum that we had that we could get this done, but unfortunately, we don’t think we’re going to at this point.”

PENALTIES AND FINES

Offense

Penalty

Incarceration

Max. Fine

Possession
Personal Use
20 grams or less misdemeanor 1 year

$ 1,000

More than 20 grams - 25 lbs felony 5 years

$ 5,000

More than 25 lbs– less than 2,000 lbs felony 3* - 15 years

$ 25,000

2000 – less than 10,000 lbs felony 7* - 30 years

$ 50,000

10,000 lbs or more felony 15* - 30 years

$ 200,000

Within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified areas felony 15 years

$ 10,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence
Sale
20 grams or less without remuneration misdemeanor 1 year

$ 1,000

25 lbs or less felony 5 years

$ 5,000

More than 25 – less than 2,000 lbs (or 300 - 2,000 plants) felony 3* - 15 years

$ 25,000

2,000 – less than 10,000 lbs (or 2,000 - 10,000 plants) felony 7* - 30 years

$ 50,000

10,000 lbs or more felony 15* - 30 years

$ 200,000

Within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified areas felony 15 years

$ 10,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence
Cultivation
Less than 25 plants felony 5 years

$ 5,000

25 - 300 plants felony 15 years

$ 10,000

300 - 2,000 plants felony 3* - 15 years

$ 25,000

2,000 - 10,000 plants felony 7* - 30 years

$ 50,000

Within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified areas felony 15 years

$ 10,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence
Hash & Concentrates
Possession of hashish or concentrates felony 5 years

$ 5,000

Selling, manufacturing, or delivering felony 5 years

$ 5,000

Paraphernalia
Possession of paraphernalia misdemeanor 1 year

$ 1,000

Miscellaneous 
Conviction causes a driver's license suspension for up to 1 year.

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