In the state of Florida, including Collier County, Statute 381.986 made cannabis cultivation legal but for medical purposes only. Medical cannabis can only be cultivated legally by Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) duly licensed by the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) under the Florida Department of Health (DOH). Currently, Collier County has only one licensed MMTC.
Statute 381.986 allows only low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content medical cannabis, which it defines as having only 0.8 percent or less THC content by weight. Medical cannabis can contain even more than 10% of cannabidiol by weight, though.
In Collier County and all other counties of the state, medical cannabis cultivation by licensed MMTCs is mandated to be done only indoors. Medical cannabis cultivation should also be done separately from other crops or plants.
Florida’s plant industry’s Statute XXXV Chapter 581 requires all cultivators of medical marijuana to closely watch their crops, including medical cannabis seeds and flowers, to quickly detect and name any kind of infestation that may pose a danger to statewide agriculture. Once they identify pests, these should be immediately and completely treated or fumigated for complete elimination. However, the only pesticides they are allowed to use are those that have been approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to be used on edible crops or any plants intended for any kind of human consumption.
In Collier County, as in all other counties of Florida, cannabis manufacturing was legalized by Statute 381.986 but for medical purposes only. Also, only licensed MMTCs are allowed to manufacture medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis manufacturing by licensed MMTCs is mandated to be done completely indoors. Medical cannabis manufacturing should also be done separately from the manufacturing of any other types of products. When using gases or solvents deemed dangerous, medical cannabis manufacturers are required to comply with the relevant DOH guidelines. For liquid and solid waste disposal, medical cannabis manufacturers must follow federal and state laws.
Licensed MMTCs are required to take two samples from every batch of medical cannabis they process and keep these for not less than nine months. During that time, a DOH-approved cannabis testing laboratory will be auditing the MMTC’s standard operating procedures, including its samples and testing records.
The independent laboratory is tasked to check the medical cannabis products for cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations, DOH potency requirement compliance, purity, accuracy in content labeling, and safety for human consumption. Its audit results are to be submitted to the DOH. In turn, the DOH may request the DACS to assist in the confirmation of audit findings by rechecking the MMTC samples.
Statute 381.986 mandates licensed MMTCs to package all medical cannabis products in accordance with the United States 1970 Poison Prevention Packaging Act. They must fasten a label securely to each package, and it must contain the printed product name, its THC and cannabidiol content, and the batch and harvest numbers of the medical cannabis used. A warning must clearly state that it is illegal to pass on medical cannabis to anyone other than the intended patients. The label’s wording must not in any way be similar to those used for children's products.
Licensed MMTCs are also required to include inside every medical cannabis product package an insert that contains the item’s clinical pharmacology, with the following:
The amount of each dose contained in the medical cannabis item
The strength of each dose contained in the medical cannabis item
Medical uses for the medical cannabis item
Administration methods for the medical cannabis item
Counterindications for the use of the medical cannabis item
Possible outcomes of using the medical cannabis item that could be potentially harmful
Other warnings and cautions
For a licensed MMTC to be allowed to manufacture edible medical cannabis items, the Florida Food Safety Act requires it to acquire a food permit with approval from the DACS. To be able to do so, the requirements for a licensed MMTC are like those for other food businesses. It must undergo an inspection of its facilities by a nationally accredited organization. It must also acquire eligibility by obtaining a Food Safety Good Manufacturing Practices certification.
It is forbidden to manufacture any edible medical cannabis product that looks like candy or like any edible product usually given to children. All edible medical cannabis products are only allowed a maximum potency variance of 15%. Each serving must not contain more than 10 milligrams of THC and each package must not contain more than 20 servings or 200 milligrams of THC. Every edible medical marijuana item must have on its container a complete listing of the product ingredients, date of expiry, and instructions on proper storage.
If the medical cannabis product is edible or meant to be smoked, it must be packaged only in plain white opaque containers. The only image allowed on the package is the DOH-approved logo of the licensed MMTC. It must carry a label with a warning to keep the item away from children. It must also have a warning that medical cannabis intended to be smoked may have toxins that, when inhaled, are health hazards.
In Collier County and throughout the state of Florida, cannabis retail was legalized by Statute 381.986 but only for medical purposes. Only licensed MMTCs are allowed to sell medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by retail. They can only sell these to patients and caregivers who hold a Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) identity card. Retail hours are limited, starting at 7 a.m. and lasting up to 9 p.m.
Licensed MMTCs bear the responsibility of checking the patient’s MMUR ID card against the online registry. Through that, they could also determine what medical cannabis type and dosage are indicated in the patient’s physician certification. That is necessary because they are only allowed to sell each patient the particular type of medical cannabis specified in the doctor’s prescription, its dosage, and its delivery system. That could include any of the following:
Medical cannabis flowers
Medical cannabis oil
Medical cannabis tinctures
Medical cannabis capsules or tablets
Medical cannabis suppositories
Medical cannabis vape products
Medical cannabis for smoking
Medical cannabis edibles
Medical cannabis topicals
For every 35-day period, licensed MMTCs are only allowed to dispense to each patient a 35-day supply of medical cannabis at a time, not exceeding 2.5 ounces, if the product is meant to be smoked. For all other types of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products, the dispensing limit is a 70-day supply at a time for every 70-day period.
Since August 29, 2022, daily limits were also imposed on the allowed THC content sold by retail for every patient. Still applicable to the present, the limits are as follows:
Edibles are limited to a maximum of 60 milligrams
Topicals are limited to a maximum of 150 milligrams
Sublingual tinctures are limited to a maximum of 190 milligrams
Suppositories are limited to a maximum of 190 milligrams
Capsules are limited to a maximum of 200 milligrams
Tinctures are limited to a maximum of 200 milligrams
Vape products are limited to a maximum of 350 milligrams
Every medical cannabis product dispensed by the licensed MMTC must be properly labeled with the following information:
Identification of the licensed MMTC
Identification of the patient or the caregiver
Identification of the certifying doctor
Prescribed dosage of the medical cannabis product
The licensed MMTC must ensure that every sale is registered with the MMUR. It must log every retail sale with the following details:
Date of purchase
Time of purchase
Identification of the licensed MMTC employee who made the sale
Identification of the patient or caregiver who made the purchase
Identification of the type of medical cannabis or medical cannabis product dispensed
Identification of the medical cannabis delivery device dispensed, if applicable
High security is required at medical cannabis dispensaries and this is the responsibility of licensed MMTCs. Medical cannabis must be locked up in a vault or similarly secure location. The facility must be protected by a security system with video surveillance and alarms 24 hours a day.
Statute 381.986 made medical cannabis delivery legal in Collier County and statewide in Florida but only by licensed MMTCs. They can deliver medical cannabis and medical cannabis products 24 hours a day all year round but only to MMUR ID cardholders.
A licensed MMTC is mandated to send out two employees for every delivery of medical cannabis. Before the delivery leaves the dispensary, the licensed MMTC must generate a medical cannabis transportation manifest through its seed-to-sale tracking system. This manifest must be filled up and kept for a minimum period of three years.
The medical cannabis manifest for transport must contain the following information:
The licensed MMTC’s identity, license number, and location
The identity and signatures of the licensed MMTC’s delivery staff involved
The medical cannabis type and volume delivered
The identity and location of the patient
The license plate number, make, and model of the vehicle used for delivery
The delivery date
The time of departure from the licensed MMTC
The time delivery arrived at the patient’s address
The licensed MMTC must ensure that every medical cannabis delivery is handed over to the patient or caregiver in person. The package cannot be left in the mailbox or any receptacle. The patient or caregiver must acknowledge receiving the delivery by signing a copy of the medical cannabis transportation manifest.
Both permanent residents and seasonal visitors to Collier County and other Florida counties can acquire an MMUR ID card if they apply with the OMMU provided they have been diagnosed with illnesses qualified by the DOH for medical cannabis treatment. They must, therefore, first be examined by a state-approved licensed physician qualified for medical cannabis treatment. The following are the qualified illnesses:
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Comparable medical conditions
The physician will log the qualifying patient’s name and email address into the MMUR. If the patient needs a caregiver, the physician will do the same for the caregiver. Minors automatically need caregivers because they are not allowed to purchase medical cannabis by themselves. Some adult patients likewise require purchasing assistance.
Once the physician has registered the patient and caregiver, the MMUR will provide them with an identifying number. They must then wait for the email from the MMUR containing their username and temporary password. They will use these to log in, change their password, and complete their application process.
Patients can also complete the application process manually. To do so, they must print out the application form, fill it up, and send it with the enclosed requirements to the following address:
Office of Medical Marijuana Use
PO Box 31313
Tampa, FL 33631-3313
Both online and offline applications have a $75 processing fee. Online applicants must pay for this online. Those who are sending in applications by mail must not enclose cash. Instead, they must enclose a money order or check for the Florida Department of Health with the ID number of the patient indicated on the memo line.
The state of Florida, including Collier County, does not earn sales tax from purchases of medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, or medical cannabis delivery devices as mandated by Statute 381.986 Section 212.08. Therefore, the legalization of medical cannabis has not impacted Collier County’s economy.
However, had sales tax been imposed, both the state and the county would have benefited from the high volume of medical cannabis sales. The July 6 to 13, 2018 sales update posted by the OMMU showed that 29,470,708 milligrams of medical cannabis had been sold by licensed MMTCs during that span of time alone. By July 29 to August 4, 2022 the sales of medical cannabis by licensed MMTCs for the specified period had grown to 243,358,822 milligrams.
Florida’s Statute 381.986 legalized medical marijuana in 2017. On the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office reported that in 2017, there were 1,356 arrests for drug abuse violations. This decreased to 1,028 by 2020. DUI arrests also decreased from 594 in 2017 to 434 in 2020.