Florida is a state famous for its sun-soaked weather, vibrant nightlife, and family-friendly destinations.
While it’s a world-class port of call for tourists from every corner of the globe, there is something locals have to contend with: stricter marijuana laws than many other states.
Florida is a conservative state after all, so it’s not surprising that its powers-that-be try to keep a tighter lid on a Schedule I drug.
But this is a frustrating reality to many Florida residents who use marijuana for both medical or recreational purposes. For them, the penalties for using marijuana, and even the rules for medical marijuana use, are harsh.
We’ll discuss these realities pertaining to the Florida marijuana laws ahead.
Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016, making it legally acceptable for people with underlying health issues to procure marijuana.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of Florida residents have obtained medical marijuana cards and made use of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Florida has gotten closer to legalizing recreational marijuana use for all Florida residents, but efforts are currently at a standstill.
Pinellas County Senator Jeff Brandes and Orlando Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith are two Florida politicians fighting for legalized recreational marijuana.
The duo introduced legislation that seeks the following:
- To legalize recreational marijuana.
- To end disciplinary actions for employees who test positive for marijuana use.
- To create licensing categories for growing, dispensing, and transporting marijuana to benefit small businesses.
- To generate revenue from the recreational marijuana taxes that will help cover deficits in the state budget.
Though these efforts are stalled as of 2021, Brandes says he will make this legislation a ballot initiative in 2022.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senators from states across the U.S. are pushing federal legislation to end marijuana prohibition in 2021.
It is completely possible that Federal legislation legalizing all forms of marijuana will pass before Florida state legislation does.
Another crucial aspect to know about Florida marijuana laws is its possession fines.
Possession of marijuana for non Medical Marijuana Card (MMC) holders is still illegal. But interestingly, many cities are opting to cite fines for these residents who possess 20 grams of marijuana or less, instead of arresting them.
This itself is a vital step in decriminalizing marijuana use. Though paying hefty fines is still a reality for Florida residents who possess a small quantity of marijuana with an MMC, it’s better than potentially serving a jail sentence.
Florida has requirements for obtaining and retaining a Medical Marijuana Card that is more stringent than some other states.
For example, they have fewer qualifying illnesses for MMC eligibility.
- ALS / Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- Chronic pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
In addition to these, Florida allows residents with “a terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification” to qualify.
Residents must also be at least 18-years-old and if their younger, have parental or guardian consent as well as approval by two physicians. All must have medical records to prove their diagnosis, as well as be recommended by a physician to use medical marijuana.
Florida residents who obtain their MMC probably only feel temporarily relieved they’ve jumped these hurdles.
Because even once they qualify for and obtain their MMC, the red tape continues to stretch its limits.
In most states with a medical marijuana program, MMCs are valid for one year. In Florida, they are valid for 210 days. If you want to keep using your MMC, you must have the entire renewal process taken care of within that 210-day timeframe or face a penalty,
Additionally, your MMC must be recertified by a doctor every 70 days. This requires a visit to the doctor’s office and a physical examination.
Florida marijuana laws even extend to patient caregivers. Caregivers must have proof of residency, an email address, and provide a current photograph. Additionally, caregivers must apply for an MMC in order to obtain and dispense medical marijuana to their patients.
To learn more about obtaining your MMC in Florida, life with an MMC in Florida, and how to renew it, check out this resource.
There are a lot of hoops Florida residents must jump to obtain a medical marijuana card and keep it legal.
It’s a lot of work, but most Floridians find it worth the hassle.
And whether it’s federal legislation or state legislation that makes recreational marijuana legal first remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Florida residents who are interested in marijuana consumption without breaking Florida marijuana laws are advised to keep the information above in mind.
Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.