Cannabis cultivation is legal in Pasco County and the entire state of Florida but only licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) can do so for medical use according to Statute 381.986. The Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) of Florida’s Department of Health (DOH) grants the license. There are now 10 licensed MMTCs in Pasco County.
Statute 381.986 allows only low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis. It defines this as Cannabis with flowers that contain a maximum of 0.8 percent of THC by weight when dried. It can contain more than 10 percent of cannabidiol, though.
Licensed MMTCs are required to grow their cannabis indoors in Florida, away from any other plants. According to Statute XXXV Chapter 581 of Florida’s plant industry, medical marijuana growers are responsible for monitoring their cannabis plants, seeds, and flowers to quickly discover any presence of pests that can threaten agriculture throughout the state. Any infestations must be immediately destroyed through treatment or fumigation. The only pesticides growers are allowed to use are those that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has approved for plants intended for human consumption.
In the state of Florida and in Pasco County, cannabis manufacturing is legal. However, according to Statute 381.986, only licensed MMTCs can do so and only for medical use.
Licensed MMTCs are required to process their medical cannabis indoors in Florida, away from any other goods they manufacture. Any use of potentially harmful gases or solvents throughout the processing must adhere to DOH regulations. In the disposal of solid and liquid waste, state and federal legislation must be followed.
The licensed MMTCs are also required to retain for at least nine months two samples from every batch of medicinal marijuana that has been processed. An audit of the MMTC and its samples, standard operating procedures, and testing records must be carried out within that time frame by a DOH-approved marijuana testing laboratory. The audit must confirm that the medical marijuana products are free of contaminants, adhere to DOH potency regulations, are labeled appropriately on cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations, and are safe to be consumed by humans. The DOH will receive the audit results from the marijuana testing laboratory. In addition, the DOH may be assisted by the DACS in verifying the results using the MMTC’s samples.
According to Statute 381.986, the packaging of medical marijuana products must be in accordance with the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. A label that is firmly attached to the packaging must include the product name, the amount of cannabidiol and THC it contains, as well as the batch and harvest numbers for the marijuana. It must be made clear that it is unlawful to give medical marijuana to another person. There cannot be any terms on the label that are often associated with children's items.
Inside each medical marijuana product package, the licensed MMTC must include a product insert that carries the following:
The medical marijuana product’s clinical pharmacology
The medical marijuana product’s dosages and the potencies of each dosage
Indications on the use of the medical marijuana product
The medical marijuana product’s mode of administration
Contraindications for the medical marijuana product
Possible negative effects from the medical marijuana product
Other warnings and precautions
A separate medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) edibles food permit is required under the Florida Food Safety Act to produce edible medical marijuana products. This is granted by the FDACS. To qualify, a licensed MMTC must pass the same standards as those for food establishments, undergo facility inspection by a nationally accredited institution, and acquire Food Safety Good Manufacturing Practices certification.
THC levels in edible medical marijuana products are limited to 10 milligrams per serving, with a maximum 15% potency variance. THC content must not exceed 200 grams per package. Any edible form of medical marijuana that appeals to children or has a candy-like appearance is prohibited. All of the product's ingredients, its expiration date, and storage directions must be listed on the package of edible medical marijuana products.
Medical marijuana products intended for smoking or eating must be packaged in opaque containers that are plain white. The only image allowed on the package is the licensed MMTC’s logo which has been approved by the DOH. The product must be labeled with a precaution to keep children away from it. Additionally, medical marijuana products intended for smoking must carry a statement that they contain carcinogens that could be harmful to one's health.
Statute 381.986 has made cannabis retail legal in the state of Florida, including Pasco County. Only licensed MMTCs can do so, though. They are only allowed to sell medical marijuana to Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) identification card-carrying patients or their caregivers. Medical cannabis retail is allowed starting 7 a.m. up to 9 p.m.
Licensed MMTCs are required to check the patient’s MMUR ID card to determine the medical cannabis type and dosage prescribed by the physician certification in the registry. Only the specific medical cannabis type and dosage and any required medical marijuana delivery device can be sold to the patient. That can include medical cannabis edibles and cannabis for smoking.
If the medical marijuana product is meant for smoking, the MMTC can only dispense a 35-day supply for each patient, not exceeding 2.5 ounces, every 35 days. For other types of medical marijuana products, the MMTC can dispense a 70-day supply for each patient every 70 days.
The licensed MMTC must fill in the label of each medical marijuana product it dispenses with the following:
Patient’s or caregiver’s name
Certifying physician’s name
Prescribed dose for the medical marijuana product
Every sale must be logged in the MMUR. The following information must be filled in:
Date and time of sale
Dispensing employee’s name
Patient’s or caregiver’s name
Type and amount of medical marijuana product dispensed
Type of medical marijuana delivery device dispensed, if applicable
The strict security of their dispensaries is the responsibility of licensed MMTCs. They must keep the medical marijuana in a room or vault that can be locked. A 24-hour security system with video surveillance and alarms is required for the dispensary's protection.
Cannabis delivery is legal by virtue of Statute 381.986 in Pasco County and the whole state of Florida but only licensed MMTCs are allowed do so. They are only allowed to deliver medical marijuana to MMUR ID card-carrying patients and their caregivers. Delivery can be done 24 hours a day.
Two MMTC employees are required for each delivery. The licensed MMTC’s seed-to-sale tracking system must first generate a medical marijuana transportation manifest for the delivery. A copy of every manifest must be kept by the MMTC for a minimum of three years. It must contain the following information:
MMTC name, address, and license number
Delivery employees’ names and signatures
Type and amount of medical marijuana product to be delivered
Patient’s name and address
Delivery vehicle make, model, and license plate number
MMTC departure time
Arrival time at delivery address
The patient or the patient’s caregiver is required to receive the medical marijuana products in person. They must acknowledge receipt of the delivery by signing the medical marijuana transportation manifest copy.
Permanent residents of Florida, as well as seasonal visitors, can acquire an MMUR ID card by applying with the OMMU. First, they must see a licensed doctor qualified by the state to assess them and determine if they have any of the following conditions that call for medical marijuana treatment:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Other similar medical conditions
Terminal medical conditions
The physician will also determine if the patient needs a caregiver to assist in purchasing medical marijuana. This is a necessity for patients who are minors since they are not allowed to purchase medical marijuana. There are also adult patients who need such assistance. The physician logs the names of the patient and any caregiver and their email addresses into the MMUR. The MMUR then provides a patient identification number.
The OMMU will send an email containing a username and a temporary password to the patient and caregiver. Upon logging into the MMUR, they must change their password. They must then complete their application for the MMUR ID in the registry.
Patients can also opt to fill up a print out of the application form and send it with the requirements by post to:
Office of Medical Marijuana Use
PO Box 31313
Tampa, FL 33631-3313
All application types come with a $75 processing fee. Online applications can be paid for online. Mailed applications must enclose a money order or check payable to the Florida Department of Health. The memo line must contain the patient’s ID number. Cash in the mail is not allowed.
Under Florida’s Statute 381.986 Section 212.08 there is no sales tax on medical marijuana and medical marijuana delivery devices. That is because all sales are only to patients. The state of Florida and Pasco County, therefore, do not gain tax revenues from the legalization of medical cannabis despite the high sales volume.
According to the OMMU’s posted update for July 6 to 13, 2018, a total of 29,470,708 milligrams of medical marijuana were sold by licensed MMTCs. This increased to 243,358,822 milligrams of medical marijuana from July 29 to August 4, 2022.
Medical marijuana was legalized in 2017 by Florida’s Statute 381.986. On the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office reported that drug abuse violations decreased from 2,459 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2020. On the same site, the Pasco County Highway Patrol reported that DUI arrests also decreased from 462 in 2017 to 412 in 2020.