Florida Marijuana Laws

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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
  • 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.

Can I Use Cannabis?

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.

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. In 2021, qualifying medical conditions for medicinal marijuana now include 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 500,000 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 June 2021, there are over 300 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 February 2020, the political committee Sensible Florida presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court for its proposed amendments to the State's marijuana laws. The proposed amendments would permit Florida residents aged 21 and older to possess, use, buy, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, as well as marijuana paraphernalia. The committee also proposed that existing medical marijuana treatment centers sell and distribute marijuana products to adults and allow Floridians to grow up to 6 plants in their homes for personal use.

In June 2020, another committee called the Make It Legal Florida proposed similar amendments to the marijuana laws as presented by the Sensible Florida Committee. The only difference was that the amendment did not include home-grow provisions. In both cases, the Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, and the Florida Legislature contested the proposed amendment, claiming that the initiatives conflicted with the federal marijuana prohibition law and that the ballot language was "misleading."

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. 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.

Penalties for marijuana-related crimes in Florida include:

  • 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 carries a potential punishment of between 2 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 of marijuana paraphernalia: Possession of drug 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.

The penalties for drugged driving (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 $4,000; 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 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 April 2021, 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.
  • The maximum amount of medicinal cannabis that may be purchased is 2.5 ounces every 35 days. Six recommendations may be given before the patient returns to the doctor after 210 days. 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