Medical Marijuana Guide for Florida


Harrison Jordan

January 29th, 2018

Policy


Amendment 2 was voted in on November 8, 2016. It was a ballot initiative that needed to win a super-majority, and it did just that, passing with just over 70 percent of the vote. It meant that individuals suffering from certain medical conditions could access medical marijuana. These conditions are: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a terminal condition diagnosed by another physician, or a chronic non-malignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition. Other states have similar lists of allowable conditions, with some overlap with the conditions in Florida’s medical marijuana law.

Patients are able to purchase their marijuana from retail stores called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. The products that the individuals may purchase include vaporizer cartridges, oral solutions, and capsules. The amendment does not allow smoked cannabis, so patients must resort to those other methods of ingestion. Dried cannabis may actually be allowed to be manufactured and purchased, but only if it is in a vaporizable dosage pod or similar dosage form.

In addition to the medical cannabis laws, there has been a pattern of municipalities voting for the decriminalization of cannabis. Possession of under 20 grams or so of cannabis has turned from a criminal sanction to ticket-like citations. Such proposals have been accepted in Orlando, Tampa, Key West, and Miami-Dade County. For first time offenders in Orlando, for example, officers could issue a citation for a $100 fine. There have also been statewide initiatives by politicians in Florida, including recent ones by state representatives Guillermo Smith and Senator Jeff Clements, which would allow individuals with a “personal use quantity of cannabis” – defined as one ounce or less, to be subject to one of two punishments: a $100 fine or 15 hours of community service.

Florida has sure come far from its earlier medical program, the 2014 “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014”, which allowed certain doctors to prescribe cannabis for a select group of patients. However, that law only allowed individuals to use low-THC cannabis. Such cannabis had to have less than 0.8% of THC so that patients would not feel any intoxicating effects.

Now, since the passage of Amendment 2, becoming a medical marijuana patient in Florida has become slightly easier. Here are just some of the requirements: You must be a resident of Florida, which is proven using valid state of Florida identification cards – though seasonal snowbirds who reside in Florida for only a limited period of time may qualify for the use of cannabis if they meet certain conditions.  These conditions include that the individual resides in Florida for at least 31 consecutive days in a year, maintains a temporary residence in Florida, and is registered to vote and/or pay taxes in another jurisdiction.

Take note that a there are still criminal penalties in Florida. Possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor in the state, punishable by a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and also a maximum fine of $1,000. Sale or delivery qualifies as a felony in the state in certain circumstances, such as delivery or sale within 1,000 feet of a school or a park. Also take note that just because marijuana may be used as medicine, you must qualify and be a registered patient with the state in order to legally possess your medical marijuana.

Aphria, a Canadian-based licensed producer of cannabis, actually has a similar-named subsidiary that produces and sells such products. The company has one treatment center, and has planned for up to a half dozen all throughout Florida. Other companies include 3 Boys Farm, Curaleaf, Grow Healthy, Keith St. German Nursey Farms, Knox Medical, Plants of Ruskin, Sun Bulb Company, Surterra Therapeutics, The Green Solution, Treadwell Nursery, Trulieve, and Vidacann. A number of these companies have websites and also toll-free numbers, so patients can get the help and attention they need.

Such locations also have the added ability to courier products directly to patients. This ability to courier products directly to patients is similar to the program found in Canada, however, unlike Florida, the country of Canada does not have legal cannabis storefronts and patients may only order cannabis to be delivered to them.

One should always remember that despite there being a law allowing medical cannabis to be possessed in some circumstances, federal law makes possession of all marijuana – even medicinal – illegal in the United States of America. The website for the Florida Health Department cautions residents as such: “Medical marijuana is available in Florida, however, remains illegal under federal law.”

There are requirements for doctors in Florida. You must be an active, unrestricted licensed physician and also comply with additional educational requirements.

Feeling confused? You’re not alone. That’s why Florida Health has provided a patient helpline to those who require assistance going through the process of becoming a patient. That phone number is 820-245-4657.

About Harrison Jordan



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