Only the licensed cultivation of medical cannabis and low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis is legal in Santa Rosa County under the State of Florida’s Statute 381.986. The statute defines medical cannabis as cannabis with a THC content of more than 0.8 percent based on weight and used solely for medical treatment. It defines low-THC cannabis as cannabis with a THC content of 0.8 percent or less based on weight, with no cap on its cannabidiol (CBD) content.
The Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) license is the only type of license that is issued by the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) of the Florida Department of Health (DOH). The MMTC license holder is authorized to cultivate medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis, manufacture medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products, and sell and deliver these exclusively to medical cannabis cardholders.
A county or municipality may create an ordinance to ban licensed MMTCs within its territory. Santa Rosa County does not ban MMTCs. Any company that intends to grow medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis in Santa Rosa County is required to have this MMTC license. Furthermore, the Santa Rosa County Land Development Code permits such facilities to be located only in the Highway Commercial Development (HCD), Restricted Industrial (M1), and General Industrial (M2) zoning districts.
In addition, Statute 381.986 specifies that there must be a distance of more than 500 feet between any licensed MMTC and an elementary, middle, or secondary school. That distance may be shortened only if the county or municipality allows it.
Licensed MMTCs are only allowed to grow medical and low-THC cannabis crops indoors. If they are cultivating other types of plants, the medical and low-THC cannabis plants must be kept totally isolated from the others.
Under Statute XXXV Chapter 581 of the Plant Industry of the State of Florida, licensed MMTCs are mandated to establish a meticulous monitoring system for their medical and low-THC cannabis crops to quickly identify any pest infestation or disease that may spread to the state’s agricultural industry. They must immediately implement fumigation or any other effective treatment to stop the problem. The only pesticides that licensed MMTCs are allowed to use for cultivation are those that have been approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) for application on plants intended for human consumption.
Only the manufacturing of medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products by licensed MMTCs is legal in Santa Rosa County according to Statute 381.986 of the State of Florida.
Licensed MMTCs are only allowed to manufacture medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products indoors. If they are manufacturing other types of goods, the medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products must be produced separately from the others.
DOH regulations on how possibly hazardous solvents and gases should be handled must be strictly observed by licensed MMTCs. Federal and state regulations on how solid and liquid wastes must be managed and disposed of must likewise be complied with.
Two samples must be taken from every manufactured batch of medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products. These must be retained for not less than nine months, during which a testing laboratory approved by the DOH must audit the licensed MMTC’s manufacturing process, product samples, and records.
The following points are tested by the laboratory, with results to be sent to the DOH:
The CBD and THC content of the sample products
The potency level of the sample products compared with DOH potency requirements
Any contamination in the sample products
The accuracy of the labels on the sample products
The safety of the sample products for human ingestion or usage
The results may be double-checked by the DACS using the remaining product batch samples of the licensed MMTCs upon the request of the DOH.
For any licensed MMTC to be allowed to manufacture edible medical cannabis products and edible low-THC cannabis products, the Florida Food Safety Act requires it to first acquire a DACS food permit. This entails the same procedures followed by all food businesses in the state, including undergoing facility inspection by a nationally recognized organization and getting a Food Safety Good Manufacturing Practices certification.
Edible medical cannabis products and edible low-THC cannabis products must not look like sweets and other food commonly allowed for children. A serving can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC. The maximum number of servings allowed in a single package is 20. The maximum potency variation allowed in a product is 15 percent.
All types of medical cannabis products and low-THC cannabis products must be packaged by licensed MMTCs in opaque plain white containers that are compliant with the U.S. Poison Prevention Packaging Act. The only allowed image on the package is the MMTC logo previously approved by the DOH. All packages must be labeled and contain leaflet insertions. The labels and leaflets must contain all the information and warnings required by Statute 381.986. The wording and font used must not resemble those used in commercial products sold to children.
Only the retail selling of medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis as well as their respective products by licensed MMTCs exclusively to medical cannabis cardholders is legal in Santa Rosa County in accordance with the State of Florida’s Statute 381.986. As of May 2023, there is one licensed MMTC dispensary in Santa Rosa County, located in the City of Navarre.
A licensed MMTC dispensary is allowed to sell medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis in the following forms:
Plant materials such as flowers
Cannabis for smoking
Cannabis for vaping
Pills, capsules, and suppositories
Within each day, a licensed MMTC dispensary is only allowed to provide the following purchase limits for every medical cannabis cardholder:
Vaping products with 350 milligrams of nicotine
Capsules or tinctures with 200 milligrams of THC
Sublingual products with 190 milligrams of THC
Topical products with 150 milligrams of THC
Edible products with 60 milligrams of THC
For smokable cannabis, a licensed MMTC dispensary is only allowed to sell every medical cannabis cardholder a 35-day supply in every 35-day period, with a cap of 2.5 ounces for each purchase. For all other types of medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis and their products, a 70-day supply may be sold to every medical cannabis cardholder in every 70-day period.
The delivery of medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis as well as their respective products by licensed MMTCs solely to medical cannabis cardholders is legal in Santa Rosa County in compliance with Statute 381.986 of the State of Florida. The statute also allows the delivery of medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis and their products from one licensed MMTC to another.
Santa Rosa County permanent residents and even seasonal residents can get the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) medical cannabis card by applying to the OMMU. They can use the search portal to find a physician qualified by the OMMU to diagnose the illnesses that are listed for medical cannabis treatment. These are:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Comparable medical conditions
Once the physician has confirmed the diagnosis, the patient’s name, specific illness, and email address will be posted on the MMUR. The physician will add the name and email address of the caregiver, as well, if one is needed. A patient who is a minor requires an adult caregiver to purchase medical cannabis since minors are not allowed to do so. A debilitated adult patient may also require purchasing assistance.
The patient and the caregiver will each be sent a unique identification number and an email by the MMUR, with which they can log into the registry online to complete their respective applications. Those who are not registered with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) have to submit their proof of residency and photo.
There is an option to apply through the mail. The patient application form and caregiver application form must be printed, completed, and mailed with the applicant’s photo and proof of residency to the following address:
Office of Medical Marijuana Use
PO Box 31313
Tampa, FL 33631-3313
There is a fee of $75 that will be paid online for online applications. For postal applications, a check or money order must be included, made out to the Florida Department of Health, and with the applicant’s MMUR ID number on the memo line.
The processing of online applications is around 10 business days. An additional three days are required for applications by mail.
Caregivers must complete the Caregiver Certification Course every two years. It is available for free on the online registry.
Statute 381.986 Section 212.08 of the State of Florida exempts medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis, and their respective products, from sales tax. Hence, the state and Santa Rosa County do not earn tax revenues from their legalization. Statute 381.986, however, allows the county or the City of Navarre to subject the licensed MMTC located there to the same license fee or permit fee charged to pharmacies.
Medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis were legalized in the State of Florida in 2017.
Data on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in the same year, there were 138 marijuana offense arrests in the state, comprised of 135 arrests for possession and three arrests for sales or manufacturing.
In 2019, two years after the legalization of medical cannabis, there were 76 marijuana offense arrests, comprised of 74 arrests for possession and two arrests for sales or manufacturing.
In 2021, which is the latest available data, there were 20 marijuana offense arrests, comprised of 19 arrests for possession and one arrest for sales or manufacturing.
The number of DUI arrests in the state was as follows in those years:
2017: 32,697 arrests
2018: 33,872 arrests
2021: 30 arrests