It is illegal for residents to cultivate cannabis at home for medicinal or recreational purposes in Palm Beach County. However, cannabis cultivation may be conducted by licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) for commercial purposes. MMTCs are authorized to cultivate cannabis for medical marijuana purposes under the Florida Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. Cannabis is considered a Schedule I controlled substance under the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. Hence, an individual caught illegally cultivating cannabis is liable to be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 per Florida Statutes 893.13(1).
Palm Beach County residents or commercial entities in the county are prohibited from manufacturing cannabis for recreational purposes. However, medical marijuana treatment centers can legally manufacture cannabis, provided the manufacturing is for medical marijuana uses. Illegal manufacturing of cannabis in Palm Beach County attracts a felony charge with a punishment of up to 30 years imprisonment and up to $50,000 in fines depending on the number of cannabis plants found in possession of the offender.
Adult-use cannabis retail is illegal in Palm Beach. However, licensed medical marijuana center dispensing facilities are permitted to sell cannabis products to medical marijuana patients in the county. MMTC dispensing facilities may not be located within 500 feet of an existing elementary, middle, or secondary school per Article 4 of the Palm Beach County Zoning Ordinance.
MMTC dispensary facilities are permitted to deliver medical marijuana products to registered patients in Palm Beach County. However, with adult-use cannabis not yet legalized, the delivery of recreational cannabis is illegal in Palm Beach County.
A medical marijuana (MMJ) card is an identification card issued by the state to patients enrolled in the medical marijuana use registry. With a Florida MMJ card, the individual named on the card can purchase and use medical marijuana purchased from licensed medical marijuana treatment center dispensary facilities in Palm Beach County. To be eligible to obtain an MMJ card in Palm Beach County, the applicant must be a full- or part-time resident in the county, or another location in the state, and aged 18 or older, or obtain parental consent if applying as a minor. To prove permanent residency in Florida, an applicant will be required to provide an acceptable photo identification.
The first step in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Palm Beach County is to schedule an appointment with a medical practitioner. The purpose of the appointment is to verify that the applicant has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition for which Florida approves medical marijuana use. Applicants can use the physician search tool on the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) website to find physicians approved under the Florida medical marijuana program to issue medical cannabis certifications. The OMMU website also contains a list of qualified physicians who have undertaken the required training to issue medical marijuana attestations. The following are the debilitating medical conditions approved by the OMMU for medical marijuana use in accordance with S.B. 8A:
After determining an applicant's eligibility for medical marijuana, the physician will send a recommendation to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). Upon receiving the recommendation, the FDOH will send an email containing login credentials to the email address provided by the applicant to the physician. The credentials will be used when accessing the Florida medical marijuana use registry. Applicants who are unable to find the emails in their inboxes may check the spam folders in their email accounts for the medical marijuana use registry login credentials. When registering online on the registry portal, select the "Your Card" page and provide the required documentation and pay the $75 application fee.
An applicant who prefers paper application should:
Complete a patient application form, caregiver application form, or both if required
Include in the application:
Mail completed application to:
Office of Medical Marijuana Use
P.O. Box 31313
Tampa, FL 33631-3313
To make the application and approval process for MMJ cards easier, the Medical Marijuana Use Registry is linked to the demographic database of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Photo identification and proof of residence may be automatically authorized using data from the FLHSMV, thereby reducing processing time. Online applications require an average of 10 working days to be approved. If you are mailing your application, it may take an extra 3 to 5 business days for your MMJ card to arrive. Patients and caregivers may check on the progress of their MMJ card applications by calling (800) 808-9580 or visiting the Medical Marijuana Use Registry's website. You may visit a registered medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) in Palm Beach County and fill an order approved by your physician after your MMJ Card application has been approved.
Although recreational cannabis has not been legalized in Florida, the state's economy has been boosted from the revenue generated through the sales and tax on medical marijuana. Licensed MMTC dispensary facilities have also created direct jobs for Floridians, while indirect jobs have also opened in other sectors of the state economy. According to an independent report, Florida made an estimated $626 million in medical marijuana sales in 2018. The report forecasts that, with demand for medical marijuana increasing, medical marijuana sales will top $1.6 billion in 2022. Note that per OMMU reports, medical marijuana patients in Florida have increased from 167,211 in December 2018 to 716,498 in May 2022, representing an over four-time increment in the number of medical marijuana users. As of December 2020, Florida added an average of 3,000 medical marijuana patients every week, making the state the largest medical marijuana market in the United States by sales.
According to another independent report, cannabis sales in Florida in 2020 reached $1.2 billion, putting the state behind the California and Colorado cannabis marketplace in overall cannabis sales. Note that both Colorado and California have established recreational cannabis markets.
DUI and marijuana-related crime rates have been declining since the legalization of medical marijuana in Palm Beach County. According to Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office records, the county recorded 684 DUI arrests in 2017, 624 DUI arrests in 2019, and 480 DUI arrests in 2020. Statistics obtained through the FBI UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) program also indicated that marijuana possession and marijuana sales arrest rates in Florida declined since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2014.