After gaining access to medical cannabis only to be prohibited from actually smoking it, Florida patients are now allowed to burn their bud for relief. On March 18, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 186 into law, repealing the ban on smoking medical cannabis. Patients and their doctors now have greater access to administer medical cannabis and to decide for themselves which mode of administration is best for them.
SB 186 also allows patients to receive up to 2.5 ounces of whole flower cannabis every 35 days as recommended by their doctor and requires patients under the age of 18 to have a terminal condition and to get a second opinion from a pediatrician before smoking medical cannabis. Gov. DeSantis also filed a joint motion to dismiss and vacate court cases that held the state’s prior smoking ban unconstitutional.
There are other encouraging recent developments, too. Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried has appointed the first “cannabis czar” to assist in building up a regulated medical marijuana market, and a recent court decision struck down a 2017 law designed to limit the number of dispensaries in the state.
Patients and their allies in Florida have fought for years to establish a comprehensive system to create safe access to medical marijuana. Fortunately, things appear to be moving in the right direction.
These are the current laws regarding medical cannabis in the State of Florida:
Possession of small amounts is illegal: Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Sale or delivery qualifies as a felony: Sale or delivery within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other specified area is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. The sale of 25 pounds or less of marijuana is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. However, the delivery of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Medical marijuana permitted: An individual may register as a medical marijuana patient if his or her doctor certifies that the individual suffers from one or more of the following conditions:
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those above
- Post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition
Patients can purchase marijuana from registered marijuana dispensaries, called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs).