Reading through legal documents can be time-consuming and confusing, and deciphering Florida’s medical marijuana laws is no exception. As patients, we want to know what our legal rights and responsibilities are as well as the consequences for violating these rules. For instance, how much medical marijuana can we legally possess at one time? How often do we need to see our MMJ physician? What routes and dosage options are available to patients? Once you know these details, you can speak with one of our Florida medical marijuana doctors to discuss which products and routes would benefit your health conditions. If you are unsure about whether or not you can become a medical marijuana patient, take our quick online eligibility survey and find out if you pre-qualify.
Florida passed Amendment 2 in 2016, with an overwhelming majority of 71.3% of voters approving the legislation. There have been changes to the initial bill, so even those familiar with the initial legislation may not be aware of the law as it stands today. If we are to remain informed consumers, we need to keep up on changes in the legislation that affect our access to product, routes we can use to administer MMJ, and where the line is drawn between legal administration of medication and a violation of the law.
How to Obtain a Recommendation
Florida state law requires every patient to see an approved medical marijuana physician every 7 months. Many of these doctors operate out of clinics specifically established to meet the needs of MMJ patients. Since most medical insurance will not pay for medical marijuana-related expenses, patients need to be prepared to pay out of pocket for their visit. If your personal physician or pain management doctor is willing to recommend medical marijuana for your use, and they are certified by the state to do so, your visit may be covered by your insurance as long as the recommendation is not the primary reason for your appointment. This is a real gray area, and one reason many Florida physicians choose not to become certified. It is important to not only find a doctor you can afford, since prices vary widely, but also one you can work with to meet your personal needs and goals.
Your MMJ physician will need a copy of your medical records indicating you meet the criteria for becoming a Florida medical cannabis patient. Acceptable diagnoses include the following:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis or MS
- Chronic Nonmalignant Pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualifying doctor
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed; these include but are not limited to ADD, Muscular Dystrophy, Psoriasis, Eczema, Shingles, ADHD, Back Pain, Alzheimer’s, Cachexia or wasting syndrome, Lyme Disease, Anxiety, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Anorexia, Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, Alcoholism, Diabetes, Bell’s Palsy, Migraines, Lupus, Interstitial Cystitis, Opiate Dependence or Addiction, Sickle Cell Anemia, conditions causing Severe Muscle Spasticity, and Severe Nausea.
Once you see a doctor and get your recommendation, you need to apply with the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) and pay a $75 fee per year to get your card. This will allow you to shop at local dispensaries and purchase medical marijuana. The law only allows patients to buy products grown and sold by licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, or MMTCs. There is no provision as yet for home grow or purchasing from anyone other than licensed facilities. Patients under the age of 18 can use MMJ as long as they have an approved caregiver to purchase the product and supervise its administration.
Where Can I Use my Medical Marijuana?
Florida law states with the exception of low-THC products not designed for smoking, public consumption of medical marijuana is prohibited. Places considered to be public areas include preschools, primary or secondary schools unless covered by Florida Statute 1006.062; buses, cars, boats, or airplanes; prisons; and places of employment unless allowed by the employer. Low-THC products include CBD oils, tinctures, drops, transdermal patches, creams, lotions, and vape cartridges. Patients are free to use all other products in their home or on private property when approved by the owner.
What Other Laws Apply to Me as a Medical Marijuana Patient?
- Patients may not knowingly misrepresent the presence or severity of their medical conditions in order to obtain medical marijuana.
- Patients may not purchase MMJ for someone else unless they are that person’s caregiver.
- Patients should not have more than a 70-day supply of medical marijuana on hand at any one time, and purchased items not currently in use must remain in their original packaging.
- Patients are not allowed to cultivate their own marijuana.
- Patients must show their MMJ cards to a law enforcement officer when requested to do so.
- Driving under the influence of medical marijuana, or when intoxicated by it, is punishable by the same laws that apply to drunk or otherwise impaired driving.
Florida MMJ laws are constantly evolving, so staying current on the rules as they apply to patients is important. You can speak to your Florida MMJ doctor or refer to the OMMU website if you have further questions or concerns regarding patient rights and responsibilities.