Marijuana for medical purposes remains legal under certain conditions. Generally, drug laws prohibit marijuana but that depends on the specific state. There are several statutes in Florida to regulate the dispersion and possession of Marijuana.
The possession, sale and trafficking of marijuana is illegal in Florida. Stature 893.13, et seq. explains the types of offenses and penalties if found guilty of a marijuana-related offence. Additionally, convictions related to marijuana can result in the suspension of a Florida driver’s license.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession
Possession of marijuana is illegal under Statute 893.13. A person caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana can be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and be liable to pay a fine or be sentenced to one year in jail.
A fine and up to five years jail time is the punishment for a person found guilty of carrying between 20 grams and 25lbs of marijuana. Additionally, the same sentence can be given to any person found with more than 300 plants.
A person found with more than 25 lbs of marijuana will not get a possession sentence. The excessive amount of marijuana is considered trafficking and will be considered a first degree felony.
Penalties for the Sale of Marijuana
The sale of marijuana is illegal and can hold grave consequences. Selling marijuana is considered a third degree felony offense. Any subsequent offense will hold a penalty of 15 years jail time.
The sale or distribution of less than 20 grams of marijuana, without being given any consideration, will be classified as a first degree misdemeanor and penalties will be according to the statutes.
Penalties for Trafficking Marijuana
Trafficking marijuana is a first degree felony and carries a sentence according to the given guidelines of the State of Florida. Trafficking of marijuana weighing between 25 and 2000 pounds carries a mandatory sentence of three years in jail and a fine of $25,000.
Marijuana weighing between 2000 and 10,000 pounds will leave the offender with a mandatory fine of $50,000 and seven years jail time. Trafficking more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana imposes a mandatory 15 year jail sentence and $200,000 dollar fine on the offender.
State vs Federal Laws
A state may have certain marijuana laws in place but the possession and sale of marijuana remains illegal according to the Controlled Substance Act. If the state law is different to the federal law, then the federal law will take precedence. Some states allow for recreational marijuana use but federal law enforcement has not yet prosecuted minor cases.
Legalization of Medical Marijuana Usage
Florida has made the use of medical marijuana legal according to two separate laws. Firstly, the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution enables states, including Florida, to make state laws for medical marijuana use and monitoring the responsibility of the State Constitution.
Secondly, medical marijuana is made legal by the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, commonly called Amendment 2. The amendment has made changes to the Florida Constitution and provides rights to medical patients to use marijuana, although only for medical purposes and not recreational use. Furthermore, Amendment 2 regulates the growth and use of medical marijuana by a governing body.
Amendment 2 broadened the scope of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. The Act did not protect all medical marijuana users and only gave immunity to people using low-THC cannabis levels. The introduction of Amendment 2 increased the breadth of conditions using medical marijuana. Doctors can recommend medical marijuana use to a patient, assuming benefits are more than potential side effects.
On 3 January 2017, Amendment 2 took full effect. The amendment provides for the sale and consumption of high-THC, under regulatory conditions.
Florida State patients suffering from ailments listed below are considered eligible for Medical Cannabis – Additional
Individuals with the following conditions can be a candidate for the use of medical marijuana:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic muscle spasms
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV/ AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Doctors can also prescribe medical marijuana usage for other conditions, according to certain guidelines. Specific criteria must be met to qualify for the usage of medical marijuana. Conditions are constantly being added to the list, making it imperative to check for updates on a regular basis.
Recommendations for Marijuana
Medical professionals can recommend the use of medical marijuana by a patient but marijuana cannot be prescribed as a medication. Federal government regulates prescription drugs and marijuana has not yet been classified as a prescription drug. Marijuana is considered a prohibited and illegal substance under Federal laws. This is why medical marijuana can only be recommended but not prescribed by a doctor.
Furthermore, the doctor will simply recommend a suitable amount of marijuana to be used by the patient. Once a patient gets permission to use medical marijuana from the relevant authorities, the patient can then approach regulated marijuana dispensaries and growers. The dispensaries will provide medical marijuana to the patient according to the doctor’s recommendations but nothing more.
Another reason why doctors can recommend the use of marijuana is that recommendations form part of freedom of speech. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to speak freely and makes marijuana recommendations legal.
Medical Marijuana Card
Patients using medical marijuana will be issued a card to indicate a place on the Compassionate Use Registry. The card is known by many different names, including a cannabis card, Florida medical marijuana card, or the official name, Compassionate Use Registry Identification Card. People who carry the card for medical marijuana usage will receive indemnity while carrying or using medical marijuana.
Admin to Apply for Medical Marijuana Program
Besides being seen by several physicians to obtain recommendations, a person will need to complete certain forms and provide paperwork to receive a medical marijuana card. The following documents must be provided as part of the application for a medical marijuana card in Florida:
- Florida proof of residency (e.g. Florida driver’s license/ ID, corresponding name on utility bill)
- Medical records stipulating medical condition for marijuana use
- Fully signed form for release of information
- Certification by licensed physician under the medical marijuana program of Florida
All information submitted will be kept confidential. Marijuana doctors and the Florida Department of Health are bound by HIPPA laws and confidentiality agreements. Law enforcement can access limited information but only when a query is raised after a person is pulled over.
Minors using Medical Marijuana
Minors can be enrolled into the medical marijuana program and qualify for a card. The difference is that the minor must receive a marijuana certification from a second doctor and not just one physician. Additionally, a parent or legal guardian must provide written consent.
License from Other State
Each state will provide a medical license to qualifying individuals. A license from a different state is not valid in Florida. A person wanting to receive a Florida marijuana license has to undergo evaluation by a certified doctor in Florida. If a person is placed on Florida’s Compassionate Use Registry database, the individual will be allowed to obtain marijuana for medical use as part of a treatment regimen.
Expiry and Renewal
The Florida medical marijuana card is dated and will expire. The card validity is one calendar year from issue. The card can be renewed after the patient has been seen by a certified marijuana doctor and a reevaluation has been completed.
The physician will provide the patient with a new medical marijuana certificate and this must be sent to the Florida Department of Health along with a new application for a medical marijuana card.
The Florida Department of Health will issue a new cannabis card but any delay in application will result in a person being unprotected during the time from a card lapse until renewal. The Department recommends starting the application a minimum of 45 days before the expiry of the current marijuana card.
Compassionate use is the term used to refer to use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Department of Health in Florida contains the Office of Compassionate use. The Office regulates medical marijuana usage and administrates the Compassionate Use Register.
The Compassionate Use Register contains the names and information of all patients using medical marijuana. Local law enforcement and the state use the register to verify validity of patients using marijuana. Being listed on the register prevents a patient from being charged with marijuana-related offenses.
Marijuana users may require a Cannabis Delivery Device to administer the marijuana into the body. The device has many purposes, including the preparation, storing, and ingesting of marijuana. Some states may see such a device as drug “paraphernalia” when referring to illegal marijuana usage. To simplify the process, Florida’s medical marijuana program calls any such item a Cannabis Delivery Device, which remains legal.
Doctors Recommending Medical Marijuana
Only registered marijuana doctors can recommend the use of cannabis. Once the mandatory registration and training has taken place, the doctor will be able to enroll a patient in the Florida Compassionate Use Registry. This means that not all doctors are able to recommend marijuana as a complementary treatment.