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:
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.
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. In June 2023, the group had more signatures that they needed to put the initiative on the 2024 ballot. However, the state’s Attorney General is challenging putting this initiative on the ballot before the Florida Supreme Court.
Over time, Florida changed the laws governing marijuana use in the state.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Additional Florida marijuana limitations include:
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.
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.
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.
However, there are recent efforts to put the question of recreational marijuana to a vote in the 2024 ballot. Smart & Safe Florida, a group advocating for the legalization of adult-use marijuana in the state, has already gathered 967,528 valid signatures to put the issue on the 2024 ballot. This is in excess of the 891,523 signatures required to do so. However, as of August 2023, Florida’s Attorney General is contesting this ballot initiative at the state’s Supreme Court.
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: