Florida Marijuana Laws – The History
Several attempts were made to legalize medical marijuana between 1978 and 2014 with no success. Then, in 2014, Florida legislators passed the “Charlotte’s Web” bill, a measure which allowed the use of low-THC, high-CBD extracts for the purpose of treating a short list of serious conditions such as intractable epilepsy. Lawmakers expanded the program in 2016 to permit terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana, with no restrictions on THC levels. The first dispensary of low-THC cannabis didn’t open until July of 2016.
That same year, advocates were able to get the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014” onto the November 2014 ballot. The bill fell just 2.5% short of the 60% of yes votes needed to pass the constitutional amendment.
The next year, in 2015, a number of municipalities including Miami-Dade County, Tampa, Key West, and Orlando began allowing officers to cite adults found in possession of marijuana rather than arrest them.
Things began to change in 2016 when Amendment 2 passed with a popular vote of 71%. The legislation established a full-blown medical marijuana program. Then, in special session, the senate passed bill SB8A which created strict regulations that applied to Amendment 2, such as making it illegal to purchase dried flower and to grow cannabis at home.
In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed a law to prevent patients from using smokable marijuana. That same year, two bills were introduced to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. However, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee “temporarily postponed” review of the bills.
Recently, in the spring of 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers heard a case brought by People United for Medical Marijuana and Florida for Care on behalf of two medical patients which challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options and prohibit the use of dried cannabis flower. Judge Grievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the [smokable] form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.” The Department of Health has since appealed the decision. Judge Gievers ruled that, under the state’s constitution, patients have the right to smoke medical marijuana in private.
Smokable Whole Flower Marijuana In Florida
Senate Bill 182, which amends our medical marijuana program, was signed into law on March, 18th, 2019…effective immediately.
Patients have to visit their recommending MedCard doctor before receiving the addition for smoked flower to their recommendation. Doctor’s may refuse to recommend smoked forms of MMJ depending on your condition.
SB 182 outlined many things, it…
- Repeals the prohibition on Dispensaries selling cannabis flower by redefining the term “medical use”.
- The Florida DOH requires patients to see the doctor in-person for access to smokable marijuana.
- Requires the ordering physician to report what other forms of cannabis the patient has used.
- Patients cannot submit a change order request themselves, or just call the doctor to get this added via the phone.
- Requires physicians to write a new order every 35 days.
- Requires the Board of Medicine to create practice standards.
- Prohibits the ordering of smokable cannabis bud for smoking for patients under 18 unless they are terminal and have a pediatrician who agrees with smokable whole flower marijuana as an effective treatment.
- Limits the amount of flower a patient can buy every 35 days to 2.5 ounces.
- The total amount of flower/bud a qualified patient can possess to 4 ounces.
- Prohibits MMTC’s from using tobacco or hemp papers in pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes.
Smoking accessories can be purchased at most cannabis dispensaries. If you don’t have a dispensary close by, or you live in a state that has none, many smoke and vape shops carry papers, pipes, bongs, and other accessories. These products can all be purchased online as well.
Florida Recreational Weed Laws And Penalties
Amendment 2 did not change Florida’s drug possession laws. The possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 20 grams of is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Sale or delivery of marijuana is a felony. If perpetrated within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified area it is punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
However, as mentioned above, some Florida municipalities have opted to essentially decriminalize personal use of marijuana. Orlando, for example, allows police officers to write citations rather than arresting offenders. For the possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less, an officer can choose to write a citation with a $100 fine for first-time offenders, or $200 for a second offense. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $500 and have to appear in court.
In certain jurisdictions, payment of the citation constitutes admission of guilt and can still result in a criminal record.
When is recreational marijuana likely to become legal in Florida? Some experts and advocates are predicting that a recreational marijuana referendum will appear on the state ballot in 2022.
Wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida? Fortunately, it’s not extremely difficult. The hardest part is getting a doctor to determine that you’re eligible for the program. (And, frankly, that’s not all that hard either.)