Florida Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Florida?

In Florida, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative makes it legal for patients dealing with complex medical problems to use medical marijuana as a treatment. Qualified patients may use cannabis to treat symptoms of ALS, cancer, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, and more. According to the Center for Medical Cannabis Research, marijuana contains hundreds of beneficial chemical compounds - Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) being the main components.

The Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) implements the Marijuana Legalization Initiative and regulates medical cannabis use in Florida. It registers patients through the Medical Marijuana Use Registry and gives them medical cannabis identification cards. To obtain MMJ cards, patients must visit a state-licensed doctor who will recommend that the state give them.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Florida?

Yes, medical marijuana became legal in Florida when Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act into law on June 26, 2014. The Act permitted residents suffering from muscle spasms, cancer, epilepsy, and chronic seizures to use low-THC cannabis products recommended by qualified physicians. In 2016, the state's medical marijuana program was expanded by the Right to Try Act which permitted qualified doctors to prescribe full-strength marijuana to patients with terminal illnesses.

In 2017, the qualifying conditions under the Florida medical marijuana program were expanded when Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 8A into law, establishing guidelines for Amendment 2. Florida's medical marijuana program is administered by the state's Department of Health's Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU).

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Florida?

Medical marijuana in Florida is open to both permanent and seasonal residents who are certified as suffering from any of the approved qualifying medical conditions. Such persons must be aged 18 or older, or if under 18, have designated adult caregivers to purchase or administer medical marijuana on their behalf. The following are the approved conditions for which residents may be approved to use medical marijuana in Florida:

  • Epilepsy
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Medical conditions of the same type or class as, or comparable to, those listed above
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain resulting from a qualifying medical condition or originating from a qualifying medical condition persisting beyond the normal cause of that qualifying medical condition
  • A terminal medical condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified medical practitioner issuing the required medical marijuana certification

Note that Florida does not offer medical marijuana reciprocity for out-of-state patients. Hence, medical marijuana patients with out-of-state medical marijuana cards cannot legally purchase medical marijuana in the state.

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Florida?

No. Per Florida marijuana laws, it is illegal for Floridians to grow marijuana for medical or recreational use. Although a Leon County judge ruled that a patient could grow marijuana for medical marijuana use in 2018, the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal overturned the County Circuit's ruling in April 2019. Since then, Florida has not considered an appeal of the matter.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Florida?

Yes. Medical marijuana (MMJ) card applicants must obtain medical marijuana certifications from qualified doctors before completing their MMJ card applications. During the appointment with a medical practitioner, the physician will review an applicant's medical records and may conduct some tests to confirm that the applicant suffers from one or more of the approved medical conditions.

Physicians must complete a 2-hour course and examination administered by the Florida Medical Association and the Osteopathic Medical Association in order to qualify to issue medical marijuana certifications. The Office of Medical Marijuana Use provides a list of qualified physicians who have completed the required training on its website. MMJ card applicants may also use the medical marijuana qualified physician search tool on the OMMU website to locate approved physicians by specialty or location.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida?

Yes. If you are under 18 and intend to obtain a medical marijuana card in Florida, you must designate an adult caregiver in your application and the medical marijuana use registry to obtain and administer medical marijuana on your behalf. While applying, you must submit a certified copy of a birth certificate or a current registration record from a Florida K-12 school and a copy of your legal guardian or parent's valid Florida driver's license or ID card. The designated caregiver must also submit a caregiver application to the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use. For more information on requirements for caregivers during MMJ card applications, review Section 381.986(6) of the Florida Statutes.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida

In order to apply for a medical marijuana card in Florida, you must reside permanently in Florida or, if you are a seasonal resident, reside in the state for at least 31 consecutive days every calendar year. You must also maintain a temporary residence in Florida, return to the jurisdiction at least once every calendar year, and be registered to vote or pay income tax in another jurisdiction or state. The Office of Medical Marijuana Use handles medical marijuana card registrations under the Florida Department of Health.

New patient applications may be submitted by mail or online. The application must include:

  • A completed application
  • A copy of the State of Florida-issued driver's license, ID card, or any other acceptable proof of residency
  • The required application fee
  • A full-face, passport-type 2x2 inches-sized color photograph, taken within the 90 days immediately preceding the application

For paper applications, mail completed applications to:

Office of Medical Marijuana Use

PO Box 31313

Tampa, FL 33631-3313

For more information on obtaining medical marijuana cards in Florida, contact the OMMU at (800) 808-9580.

Does Florida Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes, the Florida medical marijuana program permits residents under the age of 18 to assign designated caregivers to help them obtain and administer medical marijuana. Per Section 381.986 (1)(a) of the Florida Statutes, a caregiver refers to a resident of the State of Florida who has agreed to help with a qualified patient's medical use of marijuana.

A caregiver under the Florida medical marijuana program must possess a caregiver identification card and:

  • Not be an approved physician, employed by or have an economic interest in a mariuana testing laboratory or an MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center)
  • Be aged 21 or older and a State of Florida resident
  • Agree in writing to assist with the patient's medical use of marijuana
  • Be registered in the Florida medical marijuana use registry as a caregiver for no more than one patient
  • Successfully complete a certification course administered by the Department of Health or its designee, which must be renewed biennially
  • Complete and pass a background screening, except where the patient is a close relative of the caregiver

Caregivers are designated by qualified patients and not the state. Per Florida law, an individual may not be registered as a caregiver for more than one qualified patient unless:

  • The individual is a legal guardian or parent of two or more minors who are qualified patients
  • The individual is a parent or legal guardian of several adults with intellectual or developmental impairments that hampers their ability to protect or care for themselves without support or supervision
  • All qualified patients the individual has agreed to assist are admitted to a hospice program and have requested assistance with the medical use of marijuana; the caregiver is an employee of the hospice; and the caregiver provides direct personal care or other services to hospice clients as part of that employment
  • All qualified patients the individual has agreed to assist are enrolled in a research program in a teaching nursing home under Section 1004.4351 of the Florida Statutes

Note that caregivers are prohibited from receiving compensation for any services provided to qualified patients other than actual expenses incurred. Caregivers under the Florida medical marijuana program must always be in immediate possession of their medical marijuana use registry identification cards when in possession of marijuana or marijuana delivery devices.

What Is the Cost of a Florida Medical Marijuana Card?

The cost of a medical marijuana card (for a qualified patient or a caregiver) in Florida is $75. An individual applying by mail may pay this fee via money order or check made out to "Florida Department of Health" with the applicant's patient identification number added in the memo line. For an application completed online, payment may be made via debit or credit card on the medical marijuana use registry. There are currently no provisions for reduced application fees for indigent residents or veterans in the Florida marijuana laws. The renewal fee for an MMJ card is also $75.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Florida?

When you visit an MMTC in Florida, you must take along your medical marijuana use registry identification (MMJ card), a State of Florida-issued ID card, and either a debit card or cash to pay for marijuana products. Although some dispensaries accept debit cards, it is recommended that you take cash with you on your first visit. Federal regulations often prohibit banks from processing marijuana-related transactions made with debit and credit cards. To help buyers avoid this restriction, ATMs are available at several medical marijuana dispensaries for their convenience.

How to Renew Your Florida Medical Marijuana Card

To maintain a valid medical marijuana card, a patient or caregiver must submit an annual renewal application, the application fee, and any supporting papers 45 days before the card's expiry date. The validity of a Florida MMJ card is one year from the date of issuance. The expiration date is printed in front of the MMJ card. Patients and caregivers may renew their MMJ cards online or by mail. Persons applying using paper forms are advised to ensure that the Renewal Application box is ticked at the top of page 3 of the paper application.

Online MMJ card renewal applications are completed via the Florida medical marijuana use registry. For a step-by-step guide on completing a renewal application, review the Application Renewal Instructions guide on the OMMU website.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Florida?

A cannabis overdose is when a person consumes more marijuana than they can process at once. While most drug overdoses can lead to consequences like comas or death, cannabis overdoses are not as severe. Most people that overdose on cannabis have more extreme experiences than they would if they took regular doses. Effects of a cannabis overdose include:

  • Dizziness, a sensation of floating
  • Impaired memory and problem solving
  • Insufficient balance and hand steadiness
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased salivation
  • Urinary frequency
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Psychotic excitement or depression
  • Frequent vomiting

People who use marijuana with other substances like alcohol are more likely to overdose. Also, people who consume edibles without knowing the dosage are likely to ingest more than their bodies can tolerate.

Although cannabis overdoses are rarely fatal, complications can still happen. For instance, hallucinations might cause a person to have an accident, as with the young man who jumped from a balcony due to a cannabis overdose. Extreme cases of vomiting could also cause breathing problems or pneumonia.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Florida?

During pregnancy, at least 75% of all women experience nausea and vomiting. Typically known as "morning sickness," women experience nausea throughout the day. This can make the mother very miserable and, in rare cases, cause problems for her and the baby. For instance, if nausea does not stop, the mother might experience cachexia.

According to a study that took self-reporting data, the percentage of pregnant women who either self-reported cannabis use or tested for it in a toxicology test went from 4% to 7% from 2009 - 2016. Cannabis effectively relieves nausea, and the number of pregnant women that turn to it has gone up. However, studies are uncertain as to the long-term effects for the mother and child. A study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found the following risks of cannabis use to a fetus:

  • Smaller infant size at birth
  • Higher chances of stillbirth
  • Higher chance of premature birth;
  • Secondhand marijuana smoke dangers;
  • Attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems in childhood.

The report said that cannabis use during pregnancy holds risks for the mother as well, including :

  • Dizziness and the risk of falling;
  • Impaired judgment and the risk of injury;
  • Lower levels of oxygen in the body - causing breathing problems;
  • Lung damage (if the patient is smoking).
Florida Medical Marijuana