Florida is a state that has legalized the use of medical marijuana, but still prohibits the use of recreational marijuana. Patients seeking legal cannabis must go through the state’s process in order to obtain a medical marijuana card. While Florida laws restricting the use or possession of marijuana can lead to imprisonment and fines, some jurisdictions have recently opted to issue tickets and citations to offenders instead like Naples or Sarasota.
Medical Marijuana Is Legal In Florida
In 2016, 71% of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 to the State Constitution, legalizing medical marijuana. However, the implementation of this amendment has faced many obstacles and has yet to fully happen.
Florida politicians have limited the scope of medical marijuana products available to residents, prohibiting smokable cannabis. Residents who qualify for medical marijuana are able to purchase oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vapeable cannabis in tamper-resistant vape cartridges. Florida lawmakers deliberately excluded smokable cannabis flowers since they believed them to be a potential health risk to the public. Moreover, lawmakers feared that legalizing smokable cannabis could easily lead to the normalization of smoking marijuana in the state, and to further demands for recreational legalization.
In 2017, attorney John Morgan sued the state of Florida, calling its ban on smokable marijuana unconstitutional. Moreover, the lawsuit accused the state’s lawmakers of deliberately circumventing the will of its voters.
New Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recently indicated that he intends to make smokable medical marijuana legal within the coming year. A bill repealing the ban on smokable medical cannabis was passed in March. Residents are expecting an expedited legal process that could see smokable medical cannabis on dispensary shelves by the summer of 2019.
What About CBD?
In 2014, lawmakers in the state of Florida passed legislation legalizing the medicinal use of CBD for certain conditions including epilepsy, cancer, and terminal illness. In order to buy CBD from a licensed dispensary, you must have a valid medical marijuana card. However, following the federal legalization of hemp in 2018, several companies have begun to sell CBD nationwide to all 50 states.
How Can I Get A Medical Card In Florida?
To obtain a medical marijuana card in the state of Florida, patients must acquire approval from a registered and licensed physician. Patients must have a qualifying medical condition, or a debilitating medical condition comparable to those that qualify. In Florida, patients must not only prove that they have a qualifying condition, but also that other kinds of treatments have not improved their condition.
Once obtained, medical marijuana cards are good for one year, though patients must be re-examined by a doctor every 30 weeks in order to qualify for renewal. Obtaining a medical marijuana card will require collecting and submitting the proper medical paperwork, as well as submitting a processing fee.
Your Florida Medical Marijuana Card Can Also Be Used In Other States
If you are planning to travel out-of-state, you should be aware that your Florida medical marijuana card can grant you access to medical cannabis in a number of other states. Currently, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire accept medical marijuana cards issued in the state of Florida. Make sure to check local laws before traveling, as this list is subject to change.
Recreational Marijuana Is Not Legal In Florida
Recreational marijuana is in no way, shape, or form legal in the state of Florida. Consumption, possession, and sale are all strictly prohibited by federal and state laws. Violations could lead to severe fines or even jail time. However, certain jurisdictions like Miami-Dade and Orlando have recently decided to issue citations and tickets instead of arresting offenders. Whether you qualify for a citation instead of an arrest will depend on the amount of marijuana you are found to be in possession of, and the jurisdiction that you are in.
Criminal Penalties For Illegal Marijuana Possession Or Use
In Florida, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum of 1-year imprisonment, and a $1000 fine. Possession of any more cannabis will result in a felony charge that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and a $5000 fine.
Florida has very similar legal penalties for the sale of marijuana as it does for the possession of marijuana. The sale of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor that can result in a maximum of 1-year imprisonment and a $1000 fine. The sale of fewer than 25 pounds, yet more than 20 grams, is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $5000 fine.
The possession or sale of hash or other concentrates is a much more serious offense than the possession of dried flower. Since hashish and concentrates are schedule I narcotics in Florida, the possession of any amount can result in imprisonment for up to 5 years, and a fine of up to $5000.
Floridians should also be aware that possession of drug paraphernalia like pipes or bongs is illegal in the state of Florida. Possession of paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor that can result in a maximum sentence of 1-year imprisonment and up to $1000 in fines.
The state also has a drugged driving act that applies to drivers under the influence of cannabis. Convictions under this law could lead to the suspension of your license for up to a year.
Individual Jurisdictions May Have Exceptions
Despite penalties at the state and federal level, some Florida jurisdictions are electing to issue more lenient penalties. For instance, the city of Orlando encourages its officers to write citations rather than arrest suspects. Citations typically amount to a $100 fine for first-time offenders, a $200 fine for second-time offenders, and a $500 fine for subsequent offenses.
However, residents should be aware that agreeing to pay a citation could technically lead to an admission of guilt, and an addition to your criminal record. The jurisdictions where citations are currently being issued include Orlando, Tampa, Miami-Dade County, and Key West. Floridians are advised to make sure that their jurisdiction is one that issues citations for cannabis possession before taking their chances with law enforcement.