THE LEGAL PROCESS OF APPLYING FOR A FLORIDA MEDICAL MARIJUANA CARD
Florida is one of several states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. However, patients must obtain a medical marijuana (MMJ) card in Florida to qualify for treatment. Acquiring a medical marijuana card allows patients who suffer a variety of debilitating symptoms to receive relief.
Anyone who wants to apply for a medical marijuana card should take the time to research the procedures that are involved. As per state law in Florida, patients must meet several requirements to be eligible. Many people don’t know how to get a medical marijuana card. This leads to making mistakes that only prolong the process to receive much needed medical treatment. To avoid that situation, this post provides a breakdown of the legal steps involved in obtaining a medical marijuana card in Florida.
STEP #1: DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE A QUALIFYING MEDICAL CONDITION
To get approval for marijuana treatment, patients first have to establish whether they have a qualifying condition. When the Compassionate Medical Act of 2014 came into law, people considered for the cannabis treatment program had to be diagnosed with cancer or other medical conditions associated with symptoms of severe muscle spasms and/or seizures.
After the November 8 ballot in 2016, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, was put into law after passing the supermajority vote threshold of 60%. This constitutional amendment has added to the list of debilitating medical conditions that qualify for treatment with medical marijuana. Florida residents diagnosed with one of the following medical conditions can now seek access to medical marijuana.
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Seizures and chronic muscle spasms
State law also gives qualified ordering physicians the ability to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with other debilitating medical conditions that share similar symptoms as those enumerated in Amendment 2.
STEP #2: GATHER REQUIRED PAPERWORK
After establishing that your medical condition qualifies for marijuana treatment, the next step is to gather the required paperwork to file the application. To qualify for an MMJ card, the applicant has to reside in Florida. You may submit a state issued Florida I.D or driver’s license as proof of residency. If you only have a passport or other government issued ID, you can use utility bills, bank statements, or home ownership documents as supplementary proof of residency.
Under Florida law, you must be at least 18 years or older to qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Minors can also apply for medical cannabis cards, but written consent from a parent or guardian is required. Additionally, at least two physicians must provide consent for treatment to qualifying patients who are below the age of 18 years.
During evaluations, anyone seeking access to medical marijuana will need to have their medical records ready. Without verifiable medical records, your doctor will not be able to proceed. This documentation is required to certify your condition under Florida medical statutes.
A marijuana doctor can request medical records on your behalf during the evaluation appointment. However, you can save time by obtaining that paperwork beforehand. Simply contact your primary physician to request copies of diagnosis and treatment records. Make sure that the obtained records are current. Medical marijuana certification clinics will request records that document your qualifying condition within the last year of treatment.
STEP #3: START SEEING A CERTIFIED MEDICAL MARIJUANA DOCTOR
Before submitting an application for a medical marijuana card in Florida, state law requires the patient to have been under the care of a qualifying physician for a period of at least 3 months. During this period, the certified marijuana doctor evaluates the patient’s condition. The physician must determine that the benefits of administering low-THC cannabis as a treatment option outweigh the potential risks that a patient may experience. Additionally, legislation requires certified doctors to prescribe cannabis treatment only after conventional treatments have failed to treat a patient’s symptoms.
You must ensure that your primary physician has medical marijuana certification. Florida law on medical marijuana stipulates that qualifying physicians must have an active, unrestricted license as per Chapters 458 F.S. and 459 F.S. For physicians to meet this requirement, they must be vetted by the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association or Florida Medical Association. The evaluation process includes an 8-hour course and examination. Upon successful completion, the certified physicians gain access to the Compassionate Use Registry, where a patient’s name must be entered to receive an MMJ card.
The Compassionate Use Office website maintains a list of physicians authorized to order medical cannabis for approved patients. You can also obtain physician information online with a license number from the Department of Health Quality Assurance Search Service.
STEP #4: BOOK MMJ CARD CERTIFICATION APPOINTMENT
Finally, you must book an appointment with a qualified ordering physician. A certified medical marijuana doctor will review your medical records and other paperwork to determine if you qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Patients will only receive approval if they have:
- Proven Florida residency
- Been diagnosed with a qualifying condition
- Tried traditional treatment methods without success
- Is at least 18 years of age or has produced parental consent along with approval from a second doctor in the case of minors
- Received treatment from the ordering physician during the immediate 90-days prior to applying for a medical marijuana card
Once you have met these criteria, your ordering physician will issue a signed certification form, allowing you to apply to the state for a medical marijuana ID card. Qualified ordering physicians will submit the application by mail or electronically to the Office of Compassionate Use on behalf of patients. It can take up to 21 days to register a patient in the Compassionate Use Registry. Once approved, you will receive your medical marijuana card in the mail. This will allow your physician to fill prescription orders for low-THC cannabis.
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