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Everything You Need to Know Right Now About Medical Marijuana in Florida

By Luna / November 20, 2017

Medical Marijuana in Florida

Although the Sunshine State has legalized the medicinal use of marijuana for patients who are suffering from certain conditions, at the present time, recreational use is still illegal in Florida. The first laws passed to legally permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes were back in 2014, however, the legislation was quite restrictive. In 2016 these laws were expanded to make access to medical cannabis easier for the most severely ill patients. In this article, we look at the current state of play with regards to medical marijuana in Florida, which conditions are eligible to receive a recommendation, how to register for a medical marijuana card in the state and where to obtain medical cannabis.

Amendment 2 And Its Effects

In 2014, laws were first passed in Florida to permit patients with specific serious medical conditions to obtain access to only CBD rich strains of medical cannabis which had a very low THC content. This legislation was designed to primarily help those patients who suffered from epilepsy and other similarly debilitating conditions.

In 2016, the medical marijuana program was expanded to permit patients who were terminally ill to obtain access to full strength medicinal marijuana, whether it had a high level of THC or not. The growing and dispensation of medical marijuana also began in the state. In November 2016, Amendment 2 was passed with 71% of voters in its favor. This amendment makes the use of full strength medical marijuana legal while also broadening the number of conditions covered by the legislation to include HIV, AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, ALS, MS and any other “debilitating medical condition”. At the moment, there is a lot of debate over the last item. With no definite decision yet over whether individual doctors are able to decide whether marijuana could help a patient or whether the Florida Board of Medicine will be given the responsibility of determining the qualifying conditions.

No Recreational Use Permitted

Although Amendment 2 has brought some changes in the use of medicinal marijuana, it has not changed the status of recreational cannabis use. Anyone who drives while under the influence of cannabis or who smokes weed in public can be arrested and possession and distribution of marijuana is also still prohibited by Federal Law.

Medical users must only use medicinal marijuana which has been cultivated, grown and produced by one of the state’s nurseries. Right now there are currently 12 of these and another 5 are shortly due to open. These nurseries are partnered with businesses that sell, market and process the drug. Patients are not permitted to obtain the drug from outside the state as this would be violating Federal Law. Dispensaries are now being opened by nurseries to sell their own products, often as tinctures or oils. They may deliver the medicine to people in their own homes. Growing marijuana at home is still forbidden, whatever health condition the patient has, and smoking cannabis for any reason, even for medicinal purposes, is also still outlawed.

Decriminalization Of Recreational Marijuana

The city of Orlando has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis by permitting the city’s police officers to give citations rather than making an arrest. A fine of $100 can now be levied for first time offenders who have under 20g of cannabis or who have marijuana paraphernalia. $200 for second time offenders or up to $500 for repeat offenders who may also have to appear in court. The fine may be waived by agreeing to attend a substance abuse educational class or by doing community service.

How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card In Florida

Anyone who believes that they suffer from a qualifying medical condition can go to a local doctor who is permitted to prescribe medicinal marijuana in order to obtain their medical marijuana card. Once a doctor has approved the patient, their name is entered onto the registry for the state. They then can then apply for a medical marijuana card. However, this can be a slow process of around 30 days. Only a 70 day supply of medicinal marijuana can be obtained at any one time. After that period expires another recommendation must be obtained, although this can be telephoned in. After thirty weeks, the patient must see their doctor face to face once again. Insurance may not cover any element of this process.

There are now hundreds of medical practitioners across the state (over 900 at the most recent count) who are certified to recommend medicinal marijuana, with many of them being in the south of the states. However, at the moment there are still some areas that have no certified doctors who are allowed to recommend the drug to patients. This is because some doctors are still concerned that they could lose their federal license.

Visiting a doctor in person to obtain a recommendation costs around $250, with an additional $75 fee to obtain the medical marijuana card. On top of that is the extra cost of buying the cannabis itself which could be as much as $200 for 70-days-worth of the drug. As insurance cannot be used to fund the process it is very expensive for patients, which is still a cause for concern in some quarters.

What Kind Of Products Are Available?

Florida’s dispensaries sell a wide range of medicinal cannabis products for patients’ use including:

• THC/CBD capsules
• Tinctures
• Oral syringes
• Vaporizer pens and cartridges
• CBD/THC sprays
• CBD/THC topicals and balms
• THC cannabis oils
• THC Vaporizer oils
• Oral solutions
• Full strength THC cannabis

Many dispensaries not only offer a face to face dispensary service for medicinal marijuana, but also deliver to patients in their own homes.

Although the number of dispensaries across Florida is still relatively small. There are more opening all the time making it easier than ever to obtain cannabis for medicinal use wherever you live in the Sunshine state.

About the author

Luna

Luna is an avid smoker and is always ready to see what new and exciting developments there are in the cannabis community. Please excuse her writing, she's still trying to figure her way around words. Practice makes perfect! If you wish to learn more about her please be sure to check out the "About" page!

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