Historically Florida has had a strong anti-marijuana stance, but recently the state has made some significant steps forward. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, but in 2016 voters approved a comprehensive medical marijuana program.
Recreational Marijuana in Florida
Florida has some of the harshest recreational marijuana laws in all of the United States. The possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor with 1 year imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Possession, use, or sale of anything greater than 20 grams is charged as a felony with prison time ranging from 5 years to 30 years and up to $200,000 in fines. Also, if you are convicted in a marijuana related offense, the state of Florida can suspend your driver’s license for 1 year.
Medical Marijuana in Florida
Florida had in place a very restrictive high-CBD, low-THC marijuana law for a couple of years before 71 percent of voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2016 to allow full medical cannabis. Amendment 2 went into effect January 3, 2017, and the Florida Legislature passed legislation that implemented the amendment in July 2017.
Under Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions are allowed medical use of marijuana provided they have a doctor’s recommendation and an identification card. Home cultivation for medical purposes is not permitted under the law. The law does allow qualifying patients to have a caregiver who is at least 21 years old to assist in the collection and administering of medical cannabis.
Originally, the law permitted only cannabis oils, sprays, tinctures, edibles, and vaping materials. While smoking marijuana was originally not permitted under the law, in 2018 Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 2016 broadly legalized medical marijuana and gave eligible patients the right to smoke marijuana in private. In March 2019, the Florida Legislature approved SB 182, a bill that overturns the ban on smokable forms of medical marijuana for adults and patients under 18 who are either diagnosed with a terminal illness or who have obtained a second recommendation from a pediatrician.
SB 182 also allows patients to order a 210-day supply of medical marijuana at a time, up from the original 70-day supply limit approved in the initial legislation.
Florida’s medical marijuana program allows medical marijuana to be provided as treatment for patients with the following “debilitating medical conditions”:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- “Other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated”
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Florida
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Florida
Even for first-time offenders, cultivation of cannabis for any purpose is considered a felony in Florida. If found cultivating fewer than 25 plants, it is considered a third degree felony punishable by incarceration up to 5 years and fines up to $5,000. If an individual is the owner of the property where more than 25 plants are being illegally cultivated, the offense is charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years in prison.
Florida’s Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March 2016, permits certain dispensing organizations to grow and distribute cannabis.
In June 2017, Gov. Scott signed the Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects bill, which gives Florida A&M University and the University of Florida permission to conduct research pilot projects on growing and selling hemp. Nearly two years later, in May 2019, the Florida Legislature passed a bill enabling the commercial production of hemp. The legislation has been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it.
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