In Sarasota County and the whole of Florida, cannabis cultivation is legal by virtue of Statute 381.986 but only for medical use. Also, cultivation can only be done by duly licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC). The Florida Department of Health (DOH) issues the license through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU). There are currently 14 licensed MMTCs in Sarasota County.
Only cannabis with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is permitted under Statute 381.986. This is defined as cannabis with dried flowers containing no more than 0.8 percent THC per weight. Cannabidiol, however, can be present in amounts exceeding 10%.
In Sarasota County and all of Florida, licensed MMTCs are obliged to cultivate their cannabis inside an enclosed structure, separate from other plants. Medical marijuana cultivators are required to keep an eye on their cannabis seeds, blooms, and plants in accordance with Statute XXXV Chapter 581 of Florida's plant industry. That is so that they can promptly identify any infestations that could endanger agriculture across the state. Any pests need to be eliminated promptly via fumigation or treatment. Growers are only permitted to apply pesticides that have received approval from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) for usage on plants meant for human intake.
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Sarasota County and the entire state of Florida according to Statute 381.986. However, this is only legal for the manufacture of medical cannabis products, and only licensed MMTCs are authorized to do so.
In Sarasota County and the rest of Florida, authorized MMTCs are obliged to process their medicinal cannabis inside enclosed structures, apart from any other products they produce. DOH guidelines must be followed throughout the processing while using any solvents or gases that could be dangerous. State and federal laws must be followed while disposing of solid and liquid waste.
Each batch of processed medicinal marijuana must have two samples stored by the licensed MMTCs for a minimum of nine months. Within that period, a marijuana testing laboratory approved by the DOH shall audit the MMTC, its standard operating procedures, testing records, and samples. The investigation must attest to the purity, compliance with DOH potency requirements, accurate labeling of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol concentrations, and human consumption safety of the medical marijuana products. The audit findings from the marijuana testing facility will be delivered to the DOH. Additionally, the DACS can assist the DOH in confirming the outcomes utilizing samples from the MMTC.
Medical marijuana products should be packaged in line with the 1970 Poison Prevention Packaging Act of the U.S., as stated in Statute 381.986. The name of the product, its cannabidiol, and THC content, along with the batch and harvest numbers of the cannabis, must all be printed on a label that is securely fastened to the packaging. It needs to be clearly stated that giving medical marijuana to someone else is against the law. The label cannot contain any words that are frequently used to describe children's products.
The authorized MMTC is required to put in a product insert with the following information within each medicinal marijuana item packaging:
The clinical pharmacology of the medical marijuana product
The quantities and strengths of each dose in the medical marijuana product
Indications for using the marijuana product for medical purposes
Methods of administering the medical marijuana product
Indications against using the medical marijuana product
Potentially harmful outcomes of the medical marijuana product
Additional cautions and warnings
The Florida Food Safety Act stipulates that in order to manufacture edible medical marijuana products, a licensed medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) needs a separate food permit to be approved by the DACS. A licensed MMTC must meet the same requirements as food enterprises, submit to a facility inspection by an organization with national accreditation, and obtain certification in Food Safety Good Manufacturing Practices in order to be eligible.
The highest potency variance allowed for edible medicinal marijuana products is 15%, with a THC limit of 10 milligrams for every serving. Each package cannot contain more than 200 grams of THC. On the container of edible medical marijuana products, there must be a complete list of the product's contents, its expiry date, and storage instructions. Any edible medical marijuana product that resembles candy or is marketed to children is forbidden.
Products containing medical marijuana that are intended for consumption or smoking should be packed in opaque, plain-white containers. The DOH-approved licensed MMTC logo is the sole image that may be used on the packaging. A warning to keep kids away from the product must be included on the label. Additionally, warning labels stating that medical marijuana products meant for smoking may contain toxins that are risky to one's health are required.
Due to Statute 381.986, cannabis retail is legal in Sarasota County and the rest of Florida. However, only medical cannabis products can be sold by retail, and only by licensed MMTCs. Also, only patients or their caregivers who are in possession of a Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMUR) identity card are allowed to purchase medical marijuana from them. Retail sales of medical marijuana are permitted from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
In order to ascertain the type and dose of medical cannabis recommended by the physician certification in the register, licensed MMTCs must examine the patient's MMUR ID card. The patient may only be sold the precise medical cannabis variety, dosage, and any necessary medical marijuana delivery system prescribed. All productsmust be covered by the doctor’s prescription before they can be purchased. These include flowers, oil, tinctures, capsules, suppositories, topicals, vape products, smokable marijuana, and edibles.
The MMTC is only permitted to administer a 35-day supply of medical marijuana intended for smoking for each patient. This should not exceed 2.5 ounces every 35 days. The MMTC is permitted to provide each patient with a 70-day supply of other medicinal marijuana products once every 70 days.
Effective August 29, 2022, medical marijuana for sale also have the following THC content limits per day:
60 milligrams for edibles
150 milligrams for topicals
190 milligrams for sublingual tinctures and suppositories
200 milligrams for capsules and tinctures
350 milligrams for vape products
The following information must be included on the labeling of each medical marijuana item that the authorized MMTC dispenses:
Name of the patient or caregiver
Name of the certifying physician
Dosage guidelines for medical marijuana products
The MMUR must have a record of every sale. The following details should be logged by the MMTC:
Time and date of the sale
Name of the dispensing employee
Name of the patient or caregiver
The kind and volume of medical marijuana purchased
If relevant, the kind of medical marijuana delivery device purchased
Licensed MMTCs are accountable for maintaining stringent security at their outlets. They are required to store the medical marijuana in a secure area or vault. For the dispensary's safety, a 24-hour security system with cameras and alarms is necessary.
By virtue of Statute 381.986, cannabis delivery is legal in Sarasota County and the entire state of Florida 24 hours a day. However, delivery can only be done by licensed MMTCs and they are only allowed to deliver medical marijuana to patients and their caregivers who carry MMUR IDs.
For every delivery, the licensed MMTC must send two employees. First, a medical marijuana transportation manifest must be generated from the seed-to-sale tracking system of the MMTC. The MMTC must keep a copy of every manifest it generates for not less than three years.
The medical marijuana transportation manifest should have the following data:
Name, location, and license number of the MMTC
Names and signatures of the delivery personnel
The kind and volume of the medical marijuana delivered
Address and name of the patient
Make, model, and license plate number of the delivery vehicle
Date of delivery
Time of MMTC departure
Time of arrival at the delivery address
The medical marijuana products must be delivered in person to the patient or caregiver. The recipient must then sign a copy of the medical marijuana transportation manifest to confirm that they received the delivery.
An MMUR ID card can be acquired by permanent residents of, or seasonal visitors to, Sarasota County or any other Florida county by applying with the OMMU. Before doing so, they must consult a state-approved medical marijuana qualified licensed physician who will ascertain if they have any of the following illnesses that qualify for medical marijuana treatment:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Similar medical conditions
Terminal medical conditions
The doctor will decide if the patient requires assistance from a caregiver to make a medicinal marijuana purchase. Patients who are minors must have this because they are not permitted to buy medical marijuana on their own. Certain adult patients also require help. The doctor enters the patient's name, any caregivers' names, and their email addresses in the MMUR. The patient identifying number is then provided by the MMUR.
After this, a temporary password and a username will be sent to the patient and caregiver through an email by the OMMU. They must use these to log into the MMUR and change their password before completing their MMUR ID application.
To apply manually by mail, patients can print out and fill up the application form and send it with the accompanying requirements to:
Office of Medical Marijuana Use
PO Box 31313
Tampa, FL 33631-3313
Whether applying online or by post, the processing fee is $75. This is paid for online with online applications. For applications sent in the mail, enclosed cash is forbidden. Applicants must instead enclose a check or money order made out to the Florida Department of Health. The patient’s ID number must be written on the memo line.
There is a high volume of sales of medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The OMMU’s posted update covering July 6 to 13, 2018 showed that licensed MMTCs sold 29,470,708 milligrams of medical marijuana within that period. This has multiplied many times over to 243,358,822 milligrams of medical marijuana sold by licensed MMTCs from July 29 to August 4, 2022.
Sarasota County and the state of Florida, however, do not earn tax revenues from medical cannabis legalization. That is because Florida’s Statute 381.986 Section 212.08 does not impose any sales tax on the selling of medical marijuana and medical marijuana delivery devices to patients.
Florida’s Statute 381.986 legalized medical marijuana in 2017. On the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reported that arrests for drug abuse violations decreased from 1,153 in 2017 to 736 in 2020, the latest available data. DUI arrests, on the other hand, increased from 452 in 2017 to 611 in 2020.