Marijuana is only legal for medical use in Florida. Its recreational use remains currently prohibited. Proponents of marijuana legalization have sought to enact a law permitting the recreational use of marijuana in Florida. The efforts have fallen short though, and supporters of marijuana legalization have resorted to a citizen-initiative process for amending the Florida Constitution.
One such initiative would have authorized the possession, use, exhibition, purchase, or transportation of cannabis and cannabis products in amounts reasonably suggestive of personal use or use by household members. The Initiative would also have allowed homeowners to cultivate and process 6 mature flowering cannabis plants per household member 21 years of age or older. However, the Initiative stipulated that mature blooming plants may only be cultivated inside or in a closed greenhouse, and that the cannabis produced could not be sold. In June 2021, the Florida Supreme Court rejected the Initiative and its proposed amendments which would have gone to the 2022 ballot. However, in August 2022, Florida’s largest medical marijuana operator and other marijuana advocates are pushing for a new marijuana legalization initiative focusing on the 2024 ballot. The initiative plans to legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and transportation of cannabis for persons 21 and older.
Individuals may register as medicinal marijuana patients in Florida if their doctors certify that they suffer from one or more of the following conditions:
Medical conditions related to or comparable to those listed
A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the doctor who issued the physician certification.
Chronic nonmalignant pain induced by a qualifying medical condition or originating from a qualifying medical condition that lasts longer than the normal course of that qualifying medical condition
To be considered a qualified medicinal marijuana user in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:
Be a Florida resident, either permanently or seasonally.
Be added to a medicinal marijuana registry. The Medical Marijuana Use Registry is a safe, online database where ordering doctors and eligible patients may register.
Obtain a medical marijuana ID card
Qualified patients must be permanent or seasonal residents of Florida and be at least 18 years of age. Florida allows for certain exceptions to the age limit. Minors who qualify for medical marijuana are typically required to exhibit medical needs. They must have their parents or legal guardians complete their medical marijuana process and purchase medical marijuana on their behalf. Confirmation that palliative use of marijuana is required for minors is required to be provided by two physicians: a board-certified specialist (Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine) and the minor's primary care doctor. Such conditions include:
Irreversible Spinal Cord Injury with Objective Neurological Indication of Intractable Spasticity
Terminal Illness Requiring End-Of-Life Care
Uncontrolled Intractable Seizure Disorder
You can get a medical marijuana card in Florida even if you have a previous felony conviction.
Medical marijuana patients can purchase medical marijuana from registered marijuana dispensaries, which may also be referred to as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs). Only licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) in Florida are permitted to produce, process, and distribute low-THC cannabis and medicinal marijuana. You can find MMTCs in Florida by using the MMTC search tool on the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) website.
The Florida OMMU, under the aegis of the Department of Health, writes and implements the State's rules for medical marijuana and oversees statewide medical marijuana use. The OMMU also authorizes Florida businesses to grow, process, and distribute medical marijuana to eligible patients, as well as certify marijuana testing labs to protect the public's health and safety in the marijuana industry.
Possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by a jail term of 12 months and a $1,000 fine. Possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. It is a felony offense to distribute or sell it within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified place, and it is punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Medicinal marijuana has been legal in Florida since 2016 and the state is beginning to experience significant economic impact. According to a market research report, estimates for medical cannabis sale in Florida was put at $626 million in 2018. The same report forecasted that sales would top $1.6 billion by 2022. The Marijuana Business Daily had estimated sales of medical cannabis to be between $225 and $300 million in 2018 and $950 million to $1.2 billion by 2021, excluding the sale of edibles. The Marijuana Business Daily is a trusted business news outlet for professionals in the recreational and medical cannabis industry in the United States.
Although recreational marijuana has yet to be legalized in Florida, a report by the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research, claimed that if recreational marijuana use was approved in 2020, the Florida economy would be boosted with a whopping $190 million injection in sales tax and tourism every year. The $190 million figure was based on Florida's standard sales tax of 5 or 6 percent. Proceeds were projected to go even higher if marijuana products were subject to an increased tax similar to those in other states, where taxes were as high as 15%. Another report by Statista forecasts the estimated value for marijuana sales in Florida at $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion by 2025.
According to Whitney Economics, the medicinal marijuana industry in Florida has 25,895 full-time cannabis jobs as of 2022, with over 8,000 jobs added during the period, employing an estimated 34,000 residents. According to the study, the state reported about $1.5 billion in marijuana sales in 2021, outpacing sales in every other state in the United States where marijuana is legal for adults save Colorado and California.
Medical marijuana patient registrations rose in 2022, according to Florida's Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU). OMMU update as of 7th October 2022 specifies that there are 756,104 Floridians registered as eligible patients and can obtain prescriptions from any of 2,558 registered doctors to buy medical cannabis from 485 licensed dispensaries throughout the state. This trend is anticipated to continue, with yearly sales estimated to reach $6 billion by 2030.
The Whitney Economics report also supported the claim that the cannabis industry in Florida could contribute more significantly to the economy if the use of the drug was legalized for adults. With a population of about 22 million residents, the report indicated that Florida could have an annual yield of over $4 billion creating more than 700,000 jobs if adult-use marijuana was legalized.
If any of the 2022 legalization bills were adopted, Florida's marijuana market may hit $2.1 billion in sales and generate $800 million in state and local taxes, while employing over 60,000 residents.
The impact of liberalizing marijuana laws on crime has been a subject of intense debate in recent years. Florida has struggled with lowering crime rates for quite some time. In 2019, Florida had the 14th highest imprisonment rate in the country, with 582 in prison for every 100,000 adults, according to data from 2019 gathered by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
In 2020, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported 73,358 drug-related arrests against 77,981 in 2019. The breakdown for 2019 consists of 70481 adults and 7,500 juveniles, while 2020 figures comprise 67,770 adults and 5,588 juvenile arrests. The state of Florida saw a 5.9% decrease in drug-related offenses.
Also, in 2019, law enforcement officers arrested 33,873 persons for driving under the influence (DUI). In 2020, DUI arrests were 29,115. DUI offenses dropped by 14% between the two years.
However, with recreational marijuana not yet legalized in Florida, it is difficult to consider the impact of legalization on crime rates in the state.
Floridians made several attempts to legalize medical marijuana between 1978 and 2014 with no success. In 1978, the State Legislature enacted the Therapeutic Research Program, which failed to become operational. The program required federal permission and would have involved pharmacies dispensing marijuana to cancer and glaucoma patients. In 1984, the program was annulled.
In 2012, Bills HJR353 andSJR1028 were introduced as constitutional amendments to allow medical marijuana in Florida. The Bills were introduced by Rep. Jeff Clemens and Sen. Larcenia J. Bullard but never voted on. This was the first time that medical marijuana bills were filed in both the House and the Senate.
In 2014, Florida legislators passed the "Charlotte's Web" Bill also referred to as the Compassionate Medical Care Act. This Act allowed the certified physicians to issue orders for certain patients, allowing them to use low-THC cannabis, which the State defined as cannabis having no more than 0.8% THC and more than 10% CBD.
The Act authorized the Florida Department of Health to establish a patient registry and to license five organizations to produce and distribute cannabis. The original Compassionate Use Act only permitted low-THC cannabis (Charlotte's Web strain) to be administered and bought by cancer and epileptic sufferers. Advocates were successful in getting the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act on the November 2014 ballot. The measure fell only 2.5 percent shy of the necessary 60 percent yes vote to approve the constitutional amendment.
Several localities, including Miami-Dade County, Tampa, Key West, and Orlando, started allowing police to cite people caught in possession of marijuana rather than arrest them in 2015 The Right to Try Act of Florida enabled doctors to offer experimental therapies to severely sick patients in 2015, and the state added low THC medicinal cannabis to the list of approved medications in 2016.
Medical cannabis activists lobbied the Florida government in 2016 to ease limitations on cannabis usage. In November 2016, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was presented as a citizen vote and approved with a 71.3 percent majority. The bill created a full-fledged medicinal marijuana program. The Amendment, however, maintained to restrict how medical cannabis patients may consume cannabis. Patients could only utilize edibles, vapes, oils, tablets, and sprays instead of smoking marijuana.
Then, in 2017, in a special session, the Senate passed Bill SB8A which created strict regulations that applied to Amendment 2, such as making it illegal to purchase dried cannabis flowers and to grow cannabis at home. In 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that Florida's prohibition on smokable marijuana was unconstitutional and ordered the state to repeal it.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 182 into law in 2019, eliminating the prior prohibition on smoking medicinal cannabis. As a result, doctors may now recommend dry cannabis to qualifying patients, thus expanding access to medicinal marijuana therapy.
Activists and lawmakers have been seeking to legalize recreational cannabis in recent times but with no success. In April, the Florida Supreme Court ruled by a 5-2 margin that a ballot measure by the Make it Legal group was "misleading." Another group, Sensible Florida which gathered nearly 30,000 signatures of the requisite 891,589 required to put their pro-recreational cannabis use initiative on the ballot in 2022, had their proposal rejected. The Florida Supreme Court also ruled by a 5-2 margin in June 2021, declaring the proposed ballot measure as misleading. The Supreme Court ruled nothing in the proposal's actual wording limits marijuana use.