Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Florida

  1. Florida Cannabis
  2. Florida Medical Marijuana Card
  3. Consequences of Having a MMJ Card in Florida

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida

Obtaining a medical marijuana card offers numerous benefits for cardholders, one of which is legal protection against arrests for possessing cannabis.

Legal Protection

A medical marijuana card issued by the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) protects the cardholder from prosecution for possessing or purchasing up to 2.5 ounces of smokable medical cannabis over a 35-day period and a 70-day supply of non-smokable forms of medical cannabis. Although some states allow registered medical cannabis patients to grow cannabis at home, only businesses with valid Medical Marijuana Treatment Center licenses can grow cannabis in Florida. Therefore, possessing a medical marijuana card in Florida does not protect the cardholder from prosecution for cultivating marijuana in the state.

When in possession of medical marijuana, registered medical marijuana patients are required to have their registry identification card on them. Although you are not required to hold another ID, you may also provide your Florida driver's license or other Florida-issued ID when traveling with medical cannabis within the state.

Possessing cannabis is illegal for individuals who are not registered with the OMMU as medical cannabis patients. Medical cannabis patients are advised to keep their cannabis products in the trunk of their vehicles when moving within the state. Qualified patients in possession of cannabis or cannabis delivery devices who fail to present their medical marijuana cards upon request by law enforcement officers commit a second-degree misdemeanor punishable as outlined in Chapters 775.082 and 775.083 of the Florida Statutes.

Reciprocity

If you have a Florida medical marijuana card, you may take advantage of the medical marijuana reciprocity laws in other states in the United States. Some states, such as Nevada, Maine, Arkansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Utah, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia allow out-of-state patients to purchase medical marijuana in their jurisdictions. Therefore, you may be able to buy medical cannabis with a Florida OMMU-issued medical cannabis card when you visit any of the listed states.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida

Possessing a medical marijuana card may cause you to forfeit your gun rights. Florida employers may also terminate your employment if you fail a drug test.

Firearm Prohibition

Although state law does not categorically restrict medical marijuana cardholders from accessing firearms, federal law prohibits medical marijuana cardholders from possessing or purchasing firearms. If you are caught with a Florida medical cannabis patient registry ID and a gun, you may be prosecuted under federal law, as the state's medical cannabis card does not protect gun owners from the federal gun law.

Driving Restrictions

While there is no per se limit set for THC in the blood concentration for drivers in Florida, law enforcement officers may arrest a person under the influence of marijuana if the individual's normal faculties are considered to be impaired. So, while medical marijuana users are allowed to drive, they run the risk of being arrested if law enforcement suspects their actions are impaired when in actual physical control of a vehicle. If found guilty, the court may impose criminal penalties, while the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may impose administrative penalties.

Annual Renewal

Being a medical marijuana patient in Florida comes with its inconveniences. One of such is the requirement for the renewal of your medical marijuana card one year from the date of approval. The expiration date of Florida medical marijuana cards is printed on the front of the cards, and renewals are typically available 45 days prior to the expiration date of the card.

Also, you must obtain a certification from your recommending physician every 210 days and pay a $77.75 renewal fee. This fee is inclusive of a $2.75 convenience for online payment. While recertifications can be completed via telemedicine appointments pursuant to HB387, healthcare providers may charge between $100 and $300 as consultation fees.

Employment Restrictions

Florida allows qualified patients to use medical marijuana but does not require employers in the state to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace. The medical marijuana legalization law prohibits medical marijuana patients from using marijuana at their workplaces without their employers' express permission. You may be able to avoid the employer detecting your marijuana status as such a status does not typically show up in a background check. Patient medical marijuana information is protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Employees do not have to report that they use medical marijuana unless they have disclosed that they have a qualifying health condition and are seeking accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act or requesting medical leave. However, if you fail an employer-mandated drug test but have a medical marijuana card, you may be immediately disciplined or terminated.

Florida lawmakers have been working on greater protection for medical marijuana users at their workplaces. In 2020, Senator Tina Polsky introduced the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act, also called HB 595. The Act sought to prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against employees or applicants for using medical marijuana. The Act would also require employers to submit written notices within 5 days after a positive drug test result to explain their rights and provide penalized or terminated employees the right to sue for reinstatement or damages. The Act did not receive committee hearings and failed at the state's legislature.

Similarly, Senator Tina Polsky pre-filed SB 166 in November 2023, which intends to protect qualified medical cannabis patients from adverse employment-related actions. If SB 166 passes, it would only affect public employers.

Federal Prohibitions

Florida medical marijuana cardholders are not eligible for federal employment due to the federal government's prohibition on marijuana use. This prohibition applies regardless of Florida’s law legalizing medical marijuana. Typically, federal agencies will conduct drug tests for employment positions, and failure to pass a drug test for marijuana will result in disqualification from employment.

Also, due to the federal stance on cannabis, federal employees residing in Florida cannot obtain a state medical marijuana card without potentially losing their appointments. Under federal law, the possession of a medical marijuana card is considered evidence of medical marijuana use. If a federal employee in Florida obtains an MMJ card, they may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

Furthermore, cannabis possession or consumption on federal land or property is governed by federal law. Under United States laws, possessing or cultivating marijuana on federal property is illegal. Hence, marijuana cultivation is prohibited in federally subsidized housing, regardless of whether the resident has a Florida-issued medical marijuana card.

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