Florida Marijuana Laws

  1. Florida Cannabis
  2. Florida Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Medical use of marijuana is legal in Florida. Recreational cannabis remains illegal.

  • Persons 21 and older with a qualifying medical condition can purchase or smoke medical marijuana.

  • Possession of any amount of weed is illegal. Possession of more than 20 grams/25lbs of cannabis is a felony.

  • It is illegal for individuals and businesses to grow marijuana. However, state-licensed cultivators may grow marijuana.

  • Florida imposes fines and jail time for simple possession of marijuana of any quantity.

Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?

Per the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative passed in 2016, the State permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes as recommended by licensed physicians. However, a patient must be diagnosed with at least one of the following conditions in order to medically use marijuana:

  • ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease

  • Cancer

  • Crohn's disease

  • Epilepsy

  • Glaucoma

  • HIV/AIDS

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson's disease

  • PTSD

  • A terminal condition diagnosed by another physician other than the licensed doctor who issued the physician certification.

  • Nonmalignant chronic pain induced by a qualifying medical condition

  • Medical conditions comparable to those above

Florida requires medical marijuana users in the state to be at least 18 years old. Minors may designate adult caregivers to help obtain marijuana.

The use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Florida. The State prescribes stiff penalties for residents caught in possession of the drug.

Florida Marijuana Laws in 2022

When Florida enacted the medical marijuana program in 2014, the only qualifying medical conditions were severe epilepsy or terminal illnesses. Patients were also required to have tried traditional treatments to ease their suffering before they could be considered eligible for the program. Qualifying medical conditions for medicinal marijuana now includes HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and several others.

Per the rules of the Florida medical marijuana program, residents must possess active medical marijuana cards before they can legally use medical marijuana. Currently, more than 750,000 Floridians possess active medical marijuana cards. Over 2,500 doctors are certified by the Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) to assist in determining whether medical marijuana use is an appropriate treatment for patients.

The OMMU is charged with establishing and implementing the Department of Health's rules for medical marijuana. It is also responsible for the administrative rulemaking to establish an application process to award Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses. As of October 2022, there are over 450 open marijuana dispensary locations in Florida.

Florida residents and lawmakers have been looking to legalize adult-use marijuana since the legalization of medical marijuana. In January 2022, the Florida senate filed a bill to amend the current bill on adult use marijuana legalization. They proposed establishing a Division of Cannabis Management, excluding some activities from possession and use of recreational marijuana, and permitting persons above 21 to engage in activities including the possession, personal use, cultivating and transportation of marijuana in limited quantities. They also proposed that for the purpose of specific regulations, establishments selling food containing marijuana, be considered food establishments. Lastly, the bill proposed the expunging of criminal records for certain individuals under stipulated circumstances. The bill was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration in March 2022.

In August 2022, the Smart and Safe Florida group filed for a new Florida Marijuana legislation for the 2024 ballot. The petition aims to allow persons over 21 years of age to purchase, possess, and use marijuana of certain quantities. In addition, it permits the cultivation, acquisition, manufacture, sale, and distribution of marijuana in Florida for medical marijuana treatment and centers and state licensed entities.

Timeline of Сannabis Law in Florida

Over time, Florida changed the laws governing marijuana use in the state.

  • 1978: Florida legislature passed the Therapeutic Research Program that would permit pharmacists to dispense marijuana to patients with glaucoma and cancer. It was discontinued in 1984.

  • 1991: Florida’s District Court of Appeal permitted two HIV/AIDS patients to apply the medical necessity defense. The court ruled that the patients had met the burden of proof and acquitted them. The patients proved that they were suffering from a medically recognized illness, and there was no other treatment than marijuana.

  • 2012: Florida’s first attempt at legalizing medical cannabis. The House and Senate filed simultaneous bills (HJR 353 and SJR 1028) to legalize medical marijuana, including its cultivation and operating dispensaries in Florida. The bills died in committee.

  • 2014: The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act became effective, authorizing specified physicians to prescribe non-smoked, low-THC cannabis products to qualified patients. The law specified that the THC must contain more than 10% CBD but less than 0.3% THC. The law required the Department of Health to authorize five organizations to cultivate and dispense marijuana and create a registry of qualifying patients.

  • 2015: Counties across Florida began to permit law enforcement officers to cite rather than arrest persons for simple possession of marijuana

  • 2016: Florida expands the Medical marijuana program to accommodate previous limitations.

  • 2017: The Florida legislature passed SB 8A, amending the Medical Marijuana act. The bill included some medical conditions as qualifying for medical marijuana use. It also requires physicians who prescribe medical marijuana to take courses with the Florida Medical Association. It placed a limit on the number of medical marijuana treatment centers and retail dispensaries and banned the smoking of medical marijuana.

  • 2019: Senate Bill 182 came into law. It permits persons with qualifying medical conditions to purchase smokable marijuana from medical marijuana treatment centers.

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2022

The bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, was passed in 2022. The bill decriminalizes marijuana, removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances, and removes criminal charges for persons who possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana. Other changes found in the act include:

  • To replace the term marijuana with cannabis.

  • The Small Business Administration provides legitimate cannabis businesses access to loans and related services.

  • Impose an occupational tax on cannabis export warehouses and production facilities. Also, enforce excise tax on cannabis imported or produced within the US.

  • Publish the demographic data for cannabis business owners and employees by the Bureau of Labour statistics.

  • Communities, individuals, and businesses impacted by the drug war should benefit from an established trust fund to support targeted programs and services.

  • Persons with certain cannabis-related convictions should have access to federal public benefits and protection under immigration.

  • Expunge the convictions and sentence review hearing for federal cannabis charges.

  • The Department of Education reviewed the impact of state-legal marijuana on school-aged children.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposes techniques to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana.

  • The Government Accountability Office examines the impact of legal cannabis across states.

  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health surveys the effect of adult-use marijuana in the workplace.

Can I Use Cannabis?

It depends. You can only use cannabis in Florida if you are suffering from one or more of the qualifying medical conditions. It is illegal to use cannabis recreationally in Florida. Per Florida marijuana law, only persons aged 18 and older can medically use cannabis. Persons below the age of 18 may use cannabis through their parents or legal guardians who have been assigned as caregivers. In addition, a minor in Florida must also seek a recommendation for cannabis from two qualified physicians. If under 18, you can also not smoke cannabis unless you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

The United States' relationship with cannabis dates back to Colonial Times. The government encouraged the production of the plant in the 17th Century for the production of rope, sails, and clothing. The domestic production of cannabis even flourished until after the Civil War, when imports replaced cannabis. By the 19th Century, cannabis became a common ingredient in many medicinal products and was popularly sold in pharmacies.

Mexican immigrants brought recreational use of cannabis with them into the United States after the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Cannabis became associated with the immigrants and several anti-drug campaigners warned against an impending "marijuana menace." During the Great Depression, increased public resentment, unemployment, and fear of the immigrants heightened public and governmental fears about the potential problem of cannabis. By 1931, cannabis had become outlawed in 29 states in the United States.

In 1939, the United States Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively criminalizing cannabis. In the 1950s, the United States set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses. Today, many states have legalized medical cannabis and the recreational use of the plant. However, in Florida, only the medical use of cannabis is legal.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Florida Happens

Only medicinal marijuana is currently legally available in Florida pot shops. The medical marijuana business in Florida is vertically integrated, which means that licensees are responsible for producing, processing, testing, marketing, and selling the product without the use of intermediaries or contractors. As a result, license applicants must demonstrate competence in marijuana cultivation, processing, and distribution.

In Florida, you cannot just go into a dispensary and buy medicinal marijuana. Marijuana use is currently limited to persons suffering from the symptoms of a few conditions, including anorexia, cancer, PTSD, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, ALS, and multiple sclerosis. Florida marijuana law allows for other debilitating medical conditions of the same class or kind, such as an autoimmune condition like lupus.

Florida dispensaries are referred to as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs). Some of these centers have storefronts that buyers can visit to purchase medical marijuana, offer delivery services, or both. You can visit the Florida OMMU website for a list of licensed dispensaries, their contact information, and locations by city in Florida. MMTCs are in every major city in Florida including Miami, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, and West Palm Beach. Many smaller cities also have dispensaries offering delivery services in the state.

Florida dispensaries currently sell marijuana in various forms including hash, concentrates, and marijuana paraphernalia. Products in dispensaries range from whole flowers, capsules, tinctures, oils, vape cartridges, and topical products. One dispensary may sell one or two types of whole flowers, while another dispensary may sell other varieties of that product. Many dispensaries also have their custom line of products, and some specialize in specific products.

Florida does not allow non-residents with medical marijuana cards from other states to purchase marijuana in dispensaries in the state. You are required to be able to prove residency or seasonal residency in Florida. You must also have an in-person examination with a licensed medical marijuana physician in Florida and apply for a Florida Registry Identification Card. You may be able to use your Florida medical ID card to purchase marijuana in other states that allow for reciprocity in their medical marijuana programs.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Florida

Possession and sale of marijuana are illegal in Florida with penalties varying depending on the amount of the drug possessed or sold. Florida marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation in Florida are governed by both state and federal law. Per Fla. Stat. Ann. § 893.03, the State classifies marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance and prohibits the possession of any amount of the drug without a prescription. Possession of a controlled drug, like as marijuana, is defined by Florida law as the capacity to exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the contraband. In Florida, possession may be "actual" or "constructive."

"Actual" possession infers that the marijuana is in the hand of a person, is in a container in the hand of a person, is so close to be within "ready reach", and is under the control of the offender. It is important to note that mere proximity to marijuana is insufficient to establish control over the drug when the substance is not in a location over which the individual has complete authority. "Constructive" possession implies that the marijuana is not on the offender's physical person, but rather in a location over which the offender has control or in which the offender has hidden it.

Penalties for marijuana possession depend on whether the offender is charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, which is considered misdemeanor possession, or possession of 20 grams or more of marijuana, which is considered felony possession. Marijuana concentrates, such as resin, wax, oil, hashish oil, budder, and crumble do not fall under the legal definition of marijuana in Florida and are prosecuted as a separate felony crime.

  • Possession or sale of up to 20 grams of marijuana: This is considered a misdemeanor offense and carries a maximum penalty of a 1-year jail term and a fine of up to $1,000.

  • Possession or sale of Marijuana of between 20 grams to 25 pounds: This is considered a felony with a punishment of a maximum 5-year jail term and a fine of up $5,000.

  • Possession or sale of between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds: This is considered marijuana trafficking in Florida and carries a potential punishment of between 3 and 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Florida uses mandatory minimum sentences. Three years is the mandatory minimum sentence for this offense.

  • Possession or sale of between 2,000 pounds and 10,000 pounds: This can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years but may also go up to 30 years in jail. This fine also attracts a fine of up to $50,000.

  • Possession or sale of 10,000 pounds of marijuana or more: This offense attracts a penalty of between 15 and 50 years in jail and a fine of up to $200,000 if convicted.

  • Possession or sale of marijuana plants: Potential penalties are based on the number of plants with less than 25 plants resulting in a sentence of up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The possession of more than 2,00 marijuana plants will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years, up to 30 years in jail, and a $50,000 fine.

  • Possession or sale of hash and concentrates: Marijuana hash and concentrates are considered schedule I drugs in Florida. Being in possession of hash or concentrates can result in a 3rd-degree felony conviction punishable by a maximum 5-year jail term and a fine that may go as high as $5,000

  • Possession with intent to distribute: Possession with intent to distribute is a second or third-degree felony, depending on the quantity. The penalty for possessing marijuana with the aim of distribution attracts a minimum of 5 or 15 years imprisonment.

  • Possession of marijuana paraphernalia: Possession of marijuana paraphernalia can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a maximum 1-year jail term and a fine that may go up to $1,000.

  • Advertising marijuana paraphernalia: Per Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 775.082,775.083,893.147(5), it is illegal to advertise the sale of marijuana paraphernalia in Florida. It is considered a 1st-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

  • Driving under the Influence of Marijuana: There is an enhanced penalty for driving under the influence of marijuana that causes serious bodily injury or death of another person. DUI causing bodily harm is punishable by fines up to $5,000 and a minimum sentence of 5 years, while DUI leading to death gets a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. The penalty is in addition to the penalties imposed on the original DUI crime.

Consumption of recreational cannabis of any quantity is illegal in Florida. Persons with a qualifying medical condition may consume medical marijuana. However, consumption of medical marijuana must take place within a private residence. The cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Florida. The penalty for marijuana cultivation is a maximum jail sentence of five years and fines of up to $5,000 for 25 cannabis plants or less. Cultivating more than 25 plants can attract a maximum sentence of 15 years. However, if a minor resides at the growing site, the maximum jail sentence increases to 30 years.

Possible Remedies for the Defendant for Violating Florida Marijuana Laws

Many legal defenses exist for persons caught violating Florida marijuana laws which can help reduce the fines and jail time or even eliminate conviction. They include:

  • Warrantless or Unlawful Search: The defense can argue that the search resulting in the arrest was unlawful, without a warrant, or that a defective warrant was used to conduct the search.

  • Unlawful Law Enforcement Tactics: It is a possible remedy to the defendant if they can prove that law enforcement officers did not follow protocol during the search or exceeded the scope of their search.

  • Entrapment: A defendant can get their case dismissed if they can prove that a police officer coerced them into possessing the controlled substance. Again, the defense can argue that law enforcement trapped them into possessing marijuana.

  • Intention: The defendant can argue that they intended to consume the marijuana rather than sell it. The defendant can also claim that their possession of the controlled substance was temporary and they intended to dispose of the marijuana. This defense, however, can only lead to a lighter sentence, as possession is illegal in Florida.

  • Cooperating with the Investigation: The defense can choose to cooperate with law enforcement officers by offering valid information that can lead to the arrest of other persons in the drug cartel.

Additional Limitations

Additional Florida marijuana limitations include:

  • **Facilities containing Minors: *Under Florida laws, a person may not sell, deliver, manufacture, or possess with the intent to deliver, manufacture or sell marijuana within 1,000 feet of a property that houses a child care facility, a public or private elementary, secondary, or middle school commits an offense punishable by a minimum of three years in imprisonment.* **

  • Public Spaces: Any person who sells, manufactures, or delivers marijuana within 1,000 feet of a publicly owned recreational center, community center, municipal, county, or state park commits an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.

  • **Post Secondary Education Institution and Religious Facilities: **Any person who sells, distributes, manufactures, or possesses with intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture marijuana within 1,000 feet of a post-secondary education institution or physical place of worship of a religious organization attracts a $500 fine and 100 hours of community service in addition to the penalty of the original offense.

  • **Minors: **Committing a marijuana crime within a structure where a person below the age of 16 is present is a felony punishable by a five-year minimum sentence but not exceeding 30 years. In addition, if the commission of the marijuana-relayed crime causes bodily harm to a person younger than 16, the individual commits an offense with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Using a person below the age of 18 as an agent or employee for the delivery or sale of marijuana attracts a penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment.

Confiscation of Assets in Florida

The Florida Contraband and Forfeiture Act permits law enforcement agencies to confiscate assets, including cash, property, equipment, securities, records, negotiable instruments, or vehicles used upon conviction of a marijuana-related crime.

The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) marijuana in Florida are:

  • For the first DUI offense: up to 6 months in prison; penalties ranging from $500 to $1,000; license suspension ranging from 6 months to a year; 50 hours of community service or a $500 "buyout" option; car impoundment for 10 days.

  • For a second DUI offense, the penalties are as follows: up to 9 months in jail; fines ranging between $1,000 and $2,000; a mandatory ignition interlock device; a license suspension ranging from one to five years; one year of probation with a psychosocial evaluation; 50 hours of community service or a $500 buyout; and a 10-day vehicle impoundment.

  • For the third DUI offense: Possible felony with up to one year in jail; a fine ranging between $2,000 and $5,000; a 2-to-10-year license suspension, one year of mandatory probation with a psychosocial evaluation; installation of an ignition interlock device; 50 hours of community service or a $500 buyout; 90-day vehicle impoundment.

  • For the fourth offense, the penalty is a felony punishable by up to $5,000 in penalties, up to 5 years in jail, a lifetime license revocation, 50 hours of community service or a $500 buyout option, and a 90-day car impoundment.

Note that Florida allows local jurisdictions in the state to pass resolutions or laws that decriminalize the possession of marijuana and other cannabis products in their municipalities. For instance, in Miami-Dade County, possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana only comes with a $100 fine. Punishments for marijuana-related crimes can be greater in certain circumstances, such as when the offenses occur within 1,000 feet of a college, school, park, or other specified areas.

Per Florida Statute 322.055, Florida residents convicted of possession of marijuana will have their driver's licenses or driving privileges suspended for 6 months by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle.

Law enforcement officers may also confiscate marijuana, cash, or currency used or intended to be used in violation of Florida drug laws. Commonly, the police in Florida seize cash, handguns, and weapons when making drug crime arrests. Other items subject to forfeiture in felony drug cases include any vehicles used to commit the crime or in which the drugs were found.

Two or more people may be charged with possession of marijuana in Florida such as when multiple people occupy residences together. Also, persons charged with possession of marijuana may be charged with more serious drug offenses, such as the intent to sell drugs. If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense in Florida, it is advised that you consider hiring the service of an experienced criminal defense attorney to plead your case.

What is Florida's Cannabis History?

In 2014, the Florida Legislature approved the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which allowed terminally sick cancer or epilepsy patients to consume low-THC cannabis. To administer the state's medicinal cannabis program, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) created the Office of Compassionate Use (OCU).

In 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed the Florida Right to Try Act into law allowing Florida physicians to provide terminally ill patients experimental treatments or drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In March 2016, low-THC and medical marijuana were added to the list of experimental drugs with the passage of HB307.

On November 8, 2016, Florida voters passed the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also called Amendment 2, with more than 70% voting in favor. The Amendment went into effect on January 3, 2017, and the Florida Legislature passed legislation implementing the Amendment in July 2017. The Amendment legalized medicinal cannabis on a wider scale and extended the list of eligible illnesses. The amendment also renamed the OCU the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) and authorized the creation of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs).

Initially, Florida marijuana regulations allowed only medical cannabis oil, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. Marijuana smoking was illegal under the law. In 2018, a Leon County Circuit Court Judge decided that the 2016 constitutional amendment passed by Florida voters fully authorized medicinal marijuana and allowed qualified patients to consume marijuana in private. The State Legislature passed SB182, a bill in March 2019, that lifted the prohibition on smokable forms of medicinal marijuana for adults and patients under the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with terminal diseases or who have received second referrals from pediatricians. SB182 permitted patients to order 210-day supplies of medical marijuana at a time, up from the initial 70-day supply limit under the former legislation.

Florida residents and lawmakers are also pushing to get the final decision on the legalization of recreational marijuana to go to the ballot in November 2022. However, on June 17, 2021, the Florida Supreme Court issued a 5-2 advisory opinion rejecting the proposed amendment by lawmakers for the 2022 ballot, concluding that the ballot wording was misleading. Note that in March 2022, the Florida Supreme Court also rejected another proposed amendment by lawmakers seeking to legalize adult-use marijuana. Hence, recreational marijuana currently remains illegal in Florida.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Florida?

Only medical cannabis is legal in Florida. Possession, sale, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana for recreational use are currently prohibited The following are restrictions placed on the use of cannabis in Florida:

  • You must be aged 18 or older to use medical cannabis in Florida. Individuals under the age of 18 must obtain the permission of parents or legal guardians. In addition, a minor must get a cannabis recommendation from two certified doctors. Patients under the age of 18 are not permitted to use cannabis unless they have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses.

  • From October 2022, a qualified physician cannot issue a physician certificate for more than six 35-days or three 70-days supply limit of marijuana. An MMTC can dispense a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana for a 35-day supply limit. The Department of Health also stipulates the daily dose amount limit and the 70-day supply limit based on the route of administration of the marijuana an MMTC may dispense. The maximum amount in possession is 4 ounces.

  • Only if a certified Florida physician certifies that you have at least one of the qualifying medical conditions can you use medicinal marijuana.

  • It is unlawful to share your medicinal marijuana with other patients, even if they are also registered with the Medical Marijuana Use Registry.

  • Smoking medical cannabis is not permitted in any public place, on the premises of any school or penal facility, or in/on any mode of transportation.

  • Except where permitted by your employer, you cannot medicate at your place of employment.

  • Purchasing marijuana from places other than dispensaries is illegal.

  • Pregnant patients are prohibited from using high-THC marijuana

  • Florida residents cannot consume cannabis on federal property.

  • Florida residents cannot take cannabis across state lines, even if they are going to another cannabis-friendly state.

  • Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal.

  • The possession or sale of cannabis is prohibited within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, place of worship, or public housing.

Florida Marijuana Laws