In November 2016, Florida passed the Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions ballot, allowing medical marijuana to be cultivated and dispensed to qualified patients.
The ballot was created to ensure safe access and availability of medical cannabis to qualifying patients with debilitating conditions. Florida is the first state in the south to adopt proactive measures towards cannabis.
Under the new legislation, those with debilitating medical ailments determined by a licensed state physician will be allowed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Additionally, caregivers will be allowed to register with The Department of Health and assist qualifying patients with their medical use of marijuana.
At this time, no formal regulations have been implemented, but Florida lawmakers are slated with the responsibility of promulgating regulations no later than 6 months from the time of the ballot passing. Additionally, the State of Florida will begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, as well as registering Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers no later than 9 months from the time of the ballot passing.
People seeking to be able to purchase medical marijuana in the state of Florida must qualify with a debilitating medical condition. Conditions accepted are listed as follows:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Any other debilitating medical condition of similar nature where a physician feels marijuana would benefit the patient
Any patient with a qualifying medical condition seeking medical marijuana must first obtain a physician certification. A physician certification is a written document from a licensed doctor stating the validity of the patient’s debilitating medical condition, the doctor’s professional opinion that marijuana use would outweigh potential health risks for the patient and the recommended duration of medical marijuana use. Patients may only receive a physician certification after a physical examination and full medical history examination has been conducted.
Minors may seek a physician certification for marijuana, however, a parent or legal guardian must sign for it in writing.
At this time, there is no defined amount of medical marijuana a qualifying patient is allowed to possess. Check back here for updates once more laws and regulations have been established. The ballot states that a regulation determining an adequate amount of marijuana for medical use will be defined, however, a definitive quantity may be challenged with evidence of a patient’s required medicinal usage.
Similar to possession laws, purchasing limits have not yet been defined. As described within the ballot, there will be a set regulation in the future as to how much medical marijuana can be purchased at a time. The law may be subject to the amount of marijuana needed to adequately treat symptoms of a debilitating condition.
Under no circumstance is medical marijuana allowed to be consumed by anyone other than qualifying patients. Marijuana in Florida may only be consumed by qualifying patients for medical use. Medical use means the purchase, possession, consumption, transport or ingestion of marijuana by a qualifying patient or caregiver to treat a debilitating medical condition.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal and punishable by law in the state of Florida. Punishments are similar to those of alcohol DUIs, with the first offense facing up to 6 months in jail or fines up to $1,000. Severity of penalties increases with every conviction, so it is strongly advised to never drive under the influence of marijuana.
Exporting marijuana, even to other states with legal medical marijuana, is illegal and will result in steep punishment for those apprehended in the act. Medical marijuana in Florida is legal for the sole purpose of helping qualifying patients with debilitating conditions. Therefore, the marijuana is strictly prohibited from export and must only be consumed in the state of Florida.
Qualifying patients are NOT allowed to grow any plants at home, nor are caregivers. Only registered Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are able to cultivate or process marijuana. Caregivers are allowed to obtain medical marijuana for patients they assist, but they are not able to grow or consume any medical marijuana.