Current Florida medical marijuana patient? Thinking about getting your card? Either way, it’s important you stay up to date with Florida’s rapidly evolving legal landscape: Can you use medical marijuana at work? Do different states recognize Florida medical cards? What rights do you have as an employee? What about travel? Where can you use your medicine and when are you at risk of getting arrested?
CannaMD covers everything you need to know. (And, if you still need your card at the end – we’ve got you covered there, too!)
So sit back, relax, and grab your notebook. Today’s lessons are ones you won’t want to forget!
What law legalized medical marijuana in Florida?
SHORT ANSWER: In November 2016, the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (known as Amendment 2) legalized medical marijuana treatment in Florida.
MORE DETAILS: On June 16, 2014, Florida became the 22nd state to legalize (at least partial) access to medical marijuana when Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014. Patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures, or muscle spasms could use low-THC cannabis products recommended by a licensed doctor. Doctors and patients had to register on the Compassionate Use Registry, an online database maintained by the Florida Department of Health. The governor also signed Senate Bill 1700 to protect the privacy of doctors recommending low-THC marijuana and their patients.
The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 was placed on the ballot in November 2014, but failed to win the required 60% majority of votes. The publicity surrounding this defeat helped to change the public attitude towards medical marijuana.
In March, 2016, State Bill 307 expanded access to full-strength medical marijuana to terminally ill patients who were determined by two doctors to have less than a year to live.
In November of 2016, 71% of Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (perhaps confusingly: also known as Amendment 2).
A special legislative session in June 2017 passed Senate Bill 8A, the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, to implement rules for making medical marijuana available to Floridians. The Florida Department of Health established the Office of Medical Marijuana Use to implement these rules, and changed the name of the Compassionate Use Registry to the Medical Marijuana Use Registry.
How does Florida law define medical marijuana?
SHORT ANSWER: Florida only considers cannabis products purchased by a certified patient through a licensed dispensary to be ‘medical marijuana.’
MORE DETAILS: According to Senate Bill 8A, medical marijuana refers to:
All parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin, including low-THC cannabis, which are dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient.
To fully understand this definition, you also need to know two other legal definitions:
- Medical marijuana treatment center
- Qualified patient
Senate Bill 8A defines medical marijuana treatment centers (also known as MMTCs or dispensaries) as state-licensed medical marijuana centers designed to “ensure reasonable statewide accessibility and availability as necessary for qualified patients registered in the medial marijuana use registry and who are issued a physician certification.”
Translation? Florida MMTCs are the only places where patients are legally allowed to purchase medical marijuana. If you purchase marijuana from any other source – even if you have your Florida medical card – your cannabis isn’t considered ‘medical marijuana’ and you may be subject to arrest and/or penalty.
More details regarding qualified patients are provided below.
(Looking for a Florida dispensary in your area? Check out CannaMD‘s full list of medical marijuana treatment centers!)
What is the legal difference between cannabis and low-THC cannabis?
SHORT ANSWER: Low-THC cannabis, defined by Florida law, only contains .8% or less THC and more than 10% CBD. Regular cannabis is not subject to cannabinoid limits and/or ratios.
MORE DETAILS: According to Senate Bill 8A, low-THC cannabis is defined as:
A plant of the genus Cannabis, the dried flowers of which contain .8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol (CBD) weight for weight.
Regular cannabis does not have to meet the same requirements.
Who is eligible for medical marijuana?
SHORT ANSWER: Full-time and seasonal Florida residents who suffer from an eligible medical condition.
MORE DETAILS: Senate Bill 8A defines a qualified patient as:
A resident of this state [Florida] who has been added to the medical marijuana use registry by a qualified physician to receive marijuana or a marijuana delivery device for a medical use and who has a qualified patient identification card.
To qualify for medical marijuana in Florida, a patient must:
- Be diagnosed by a certified physician with a qualifying condition
- Have permanent or temporary residency in the state of Florida
As outlined by Amendment 2, the following conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment in Florida:
In addition to the qualifying conditions above, Senate Bill 8A allows for treatment of other “diagnosable, debilitating conditions of like, kind, or class” (such as anxiety, depression, and migraines), as well as terminal conditions (diagnosed by a physician other than the physician issuing certification) and chronic nonmalignant pain (defined as pain caused by a qualifying medical condition that persists beyond the usual course of that condition).
For a full list of conditions that may qualify, please see CannaMD‘s Qualifying Conditions Resource Page.
While Florida residents are required to provide a copy of their driver’s license or other state-approved form of identification to prove residency, seasonal residents may submit a copy of two of the following that show proof of residential address:
- A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet, or residential rental or lease agreement
- One proof of residential address from the seasonal resident’s parent, step-parent, legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her
- A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days before registration in the medical use registry
- A utility bill, not more than 2 months old
- Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than 2 months old
- Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than 2 months old
- Any other documentation that provides proof of residential address as determined by department rule
More details regarding residency requirements are provided below.
Can visiting patients qualify for medical marijuana in Florida?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes! They just have to live in Florida for at least 31 consecutive days each calendar year and maintain a temporary residence.
MORE DETAILS: Senate Bill 8A expressly states that individuals who meet the definition of seasonal residents may qualify for medical marijuana treatment:
[T]he term “seasonal resident” means any person who temporarily resides in this state [Florida] for a period of at least 31 consecutive days in each calendar year, maintains a temporary residence in this state, returns to the state or jurisdiction of his or her residence at least one time during each calendar year, and is registered to vote or pays income tax in another state or jurisdiction.
For more information, see: Florida Snowbirds Can Use Medical Marijuana.
How do you qualify for medical marijuana in Florida?
CannaMD makes qualifying for medical marijuana easy!
In order to get a medial marijuana card, you need to visit a certified doctor who can assess your need for medical marijuana and submit a recommendation to the state on your behalf. And that’s where we come in!
During your appointment at CannaMD, you will talk with one of our certified physicians to determine your eligibility for medical marijuana. Your initial appointment will cover your medical cannabis orders and state-required recommendation for the longest period allowed by law: 210 days.
During this appointment, we ask that patients bring in proof of diagnosis for their current medical condition(s). A progress note or physician-signed acknowledgment is ideal documentation (as long as it includes your doctor’s name, signature, and your diagnosed condition).
Once we confirm that you are eligible for medical marijuana, we will send a recommendation to the Florida Department of Health to notify them that you require treatment. Within a few days of your appointment, the Florida Department of Health will send an email asking you to create an online account. Account creation allows the state to confirm your residency and is the final step in the process of getting your medical marijuana card.
After you complete your account set-up and pay the state-required fee of $75, you will receive your medical marijuana card!
For more information, call CannaMD at (855) 420-9170 or fill out our easy online application.
Are medical marijuana telehealth (remote) appointments legal in Florida?
SHORT ANSWER: No, not at this time.
MORE DETAILS: While medical marijuana physicians may not conduct telehealth appointments at this time, they were briefly permitted to do so during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Department of Health Emergency Order issued March 16, 2020 by State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, medical cannabis physicians were temporarily allowed to conduct telehealth (remote) appointments for “existing qualified patients with an existing certification that was issued by that qualified physician.”
Again, at this time, authorization has expired.
To learn more about CannaMD‘s COVID-19 safety measures, see: Coronavirus Policies.
Where are Florida patients allowed to purchase medical marijuana?
SHORT ANSWER: Florida patients may only purchase medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary.
MORE DETAILS: Marijuana is only considered ‘medical’ in Florida if it is purchased by a qualified patient in a licensed medical marijuana treatment center.
For a searchable map of all Florida dispensaries, see: Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.
Can you go into a dispensary without a card in Florida?
SHORT ANSWER: No. Only state-registered medical marijuana patients may shop in Florida dispensaries.
MORE DETAILS: While each dispensary policy varies, most medical marijuana treatment centers restrict access to Florida cardholders only. Non-patients are often (although not always) allowed to wait in the lobby/sitting area. However, browsing available products usually takes place in a separate room, which is only available to Florida medical marijuana cardholders.
What are the legal requirements to become a Florida medical marijuana doctor?
SHORT ANSWER: In order to recommend medical marijuana, Florida physicians must hold an active, unrestricted license as either an allopathic physician or osteopathic physician and take an annual course and exam.
MORE DETAILS: As medical marijuana physicians ourselves, this one is easy!
In accordance with state law, all CannaMD doctors hold an active, unrestricted license as either an allopathic physician or osteopathic physician and are in compliance with all state-mandated education requirements. At this time, educational requirements include completing an annual course and exam administered by either the Florida Medical Association or Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.
Also in line with Senate Bill 8A, CannaMD physicians are not employed by, and do not have any direct or indirect economic interest in, any medical marijuana treatment centers or marijuana testing laboratories.
To learn more about the CannaMD team, see: Meet Our Doctors.
Are medical marijuana records private?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes.
MORE DETAILS: The Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), which is a branch of the Florida Department of Health, oversees the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. This secure, online registry is how your doctor will notify the state that you are eligible for medical marijuana. After you meet with a doctor, the following information will be entered into the registry:
- Your qualifying condition
- The amount and routes of medical marijuana that have been authorized
After this data has been entered, the information will be reviewed and you will receive your medical marijuana card. Throughout the year, we are required to update your profile on the Medical Marijuana Use Registry if changes in treatment or eligibility occur.
Once you begin medical marijuana treatment, the only people that will have access to your records will be:
- Your doctor
- The Florida Department of Health
- Law enforcement
- Medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) staff
This information will be protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so no other entities will be able to access your medical records. However, billing companies and other entities that work directly with your medical marijuana clinic may have access to your information as it pertains to their role as a business associate. These entities are still under HIPAA regulation, so you can trust that your information will be protected.
Some patients choose to designate a personal representative, giving them legal permission to access medical records and make health care decisions on their behalf. This is typically a spouse, child, or other family member who is trusted to handle the relevant information. With the exception of a medical emergency, this is the only way that someone else will be able to access your medical marijuana records.
Note: While MMTC staff and law officers may view your demographic information, route(s) of administration, and allowable milligrams, they cannot see your qualifying diagnosis or any other medical information.
Importantly, pursuant to Florida Statute 381.987, the Department of Health only allows access to confidential and exempt information in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry to law enforcement agencies that are investigating a violation of law regarding marijuana in which the subject of the investigation claims a medical marijuana exception.
Can Florida police access the Medical Marijuana Use Registry?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes, but only if you state you’re a medical marijuana patient in defense of an investigation claim (e.g., a police officer finds your medical marijuana products and you claim possession is legal because you’re a medical marijuana patient).
MORE DETAILS: According to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, police can only access the registry if they are are investigating a violation of law regarding marijuana in which the subject of the investigation claims an exception (the exception being that the subject is a registered medical marijuana patient):
Pursuant to s. 381.987, F.S. the department allows access to confidential and exempt information in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry to law enforcement agencies that are investigating a violation of law regarding marijuana in which the subject of the investigation claims an exception established under s. 381.986, F.S.
This essentially means that the police are only able to access the Medical Marijuana Use Registry to confirm that you are a registered patient once you make the claim yourself.
Do Florida medical marijuana patients qualify for concealed weapons permits?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes!
MORE DETAILS: CannaMD interviewed Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nicole “Nikki” Fried, to get answers to all the concealed carry questions you need to know!
For the full interview, see: Florida Firearms & Medical Marijuana.
Can patients drive with medical marijuana in the vehicle?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes, but products must be contained in their original packaging. In-vehicle use is strictly prohibited. Patients may not drive with medical marijuana across state lines.
MORE DETAILS: If you are a Florida medical marijuana patient, you are allowed to drive with medical marijuana products in your possession within the state of Florida, as long as the products are securely contained in their original packaging. This means if you are driving home from a medical marijuana dispensary or need to bring your medication somewhere, you are legally allowed to do so.
However, you are not allowed to use or administer medical marijuana products in your vehicle. It is illegal to be under the influence of marijuana while driving, and using medical marijuana products in the car would violate this law. There are also additional restrictions on the use and transport of medical marijuana as defined by Florida law.
According to Senate Bill 8A, medical marijuana use and/or administration is strictly prohibited on any form of public transportation,* on a school bus, in a vehicle, in an aircraft, or on a motorboat.*
Low-THC cannabis use is permitted in categories followed by an asterisk (*).
Note: Even though medical marijuana is legal in Florida, it is still classified as a Schedule I substance by the federal government. Given its Schedule I status, possession of marijuana is still federally illegal. This means that traveling into another state with medical marijuana, even if the state has legalized treatment, is illegal.
Allison Malsbury of Canna Law Group describes the practical risk of traveling between states with medical marijuana:
From a legal perspective, it’s very cut and dried. In practice, however, it’s very ambiguous. In practice, the chances of feds or the DEA sitting at the border waiting to catch someone – that’s just not happening. It’s not practical or worth their time.
However, as Americans for Safe Access reminds patients:
The best law enforcement encounter is the encounter that never occurs.
For more details, see: Can I Use My Medical Marijuana in States Where It’s Not Legal?.
Can Florida patients use their medical marijuana cards in other states?
SHORT ANSWER: Usually not, but in a few select states: Yes.
MORE DETAILS: While marijuana’s Schedule I classification still makes transport across state lines illegal, use once already in other states is sometimes allowed. For instance, a number of states allow patients to side-step travel issues by permitting legal access to recreational marijuana.
Note: This does not mean that patients can make purchases in medical dispensaries (although a few states accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards).
For a full list of states that honor out-of-state medical cards (and ones that offer recreational purchase options), see: Can I Use My Florida Medical Marijuana Card in Other States?.
Does Florida accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards?
SHORT ANSWER: No.
MORE DETAILS: At this time, Florida does not practice medical marijuana program reciprocity – meaning that the Sunshine State does not accept out-of-state medical cannabis cards. Patients wishing to purchase legal medical marijuana products in Florida must first qualify as a seasonal or permanent resident before initiating the cannabis certification process.
When can police search your car?
SHORT ANSWER: Police may search your car when they have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime. They may search in any area or part where such contraband or evidence may be found.
MORE DETAILS: If you are driving with medical marijuana products, it is important to understand the laws that give police the right to search your vehicle. The Florida Highway Patrol Policy Manual outlines these rights. Importantly, Article I, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution protects persons and places from unreasonable searches and seizures.
However, with probable cause, police officers do have the right to search your vehicle:
[Police] members may, with probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime, search said vehicle in any area or part where such contraband or evidence may be found.
According to the policy manual, probable cause means:
A fair probability that the evidence will be found, based on an objective assessment of the totality of the circumstances, viewed in light of the member’s training and experience. It means there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been or is being committed, and showing that the items to be seized are at the place to be searched.
A police officer may also take action if marijuana products are in plain view. The policy manual states that:
Any time a member observes, in plain view, evidence of a crime or contraband, and the member has a lawful presence, the evidence or contraband shall be seized.
Plain view is defined as “observation of evidence of a crime or contraband, without searching, from a location where the member has a lawful right to be.”
Without probable cause or having marijuana in plain sight, police officers may also search your person or your vehicle if you give them permission:
Members may also search a person or a person’s property, including a vehicle, when that person orally gives that member permission to do so. For a person to consent to a search of a vehicle or other property, the person must own the property or have sufficient control of the property to authorize the search, such as the driver of a vehicle. This consent must be voluntary.
At any time the person can withdraw his/her consent to a search of his/her person and the search shall cease. Also, at any time, prior to establishing probable cause, the person can withdraw his/her consent to a search of his/her property, including a vehicle or any part thereof and the search shall cease. Any evidence or contraband found before the withdrawal of the consent shall be retained.
Specific consent to search the trunk of a vehicle or a locked container should be obtained.
For more information, including details regarding K-9 searches, see: Driving with Medical Marijuana in Florida.
Can patients fly with medical marijuana?
SHORT ANSWER: Maybe.
MORE DETAILS: On April 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration (TSA) shared an Instagram post with the following caption:
Are we cool? We like to think we’re cool. We want you to have a pleasant experience at the airport and arrive safely at your destination. But getting caught while trying to fly with marijuana or cannabis-infused products can really harsh your mellow.
Let us be blunt. TSA officers DO NOT search for marijuana or other illegal drugs. Our screening procedures are focused on security and detecting potential threats. But in the event a substance appears to be marijuana or a cannabis-infused product, we’re required by federal law to notify law enforcement. This includes items that are used for medicinal purposes.
The TSA website also includes some equally conflicting information, stating that medical marijuana is allowed in checked and carry-on bags with “special instructions.”
According to the TSA website:
Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities.
TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.
So what happens if the TSA stops you for medical marijuana possession in a state where cannabis legal?
Representatives from the Florida Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have said if passengers have the proper documents, medical marijuana is allowed. However, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Board has issued an anti-marijuana policy to avoid potential conflicts with the Federal Aviation Authority Board, which provides grants for the Orlando International Airport (to receive grants, the Orlando International Airport must comply with all federal laws).
According to Orlando lawyer Marcho Marchena:
The airport is basically wanting to make sure that if the federal government comes to make a determination that the airport is following all federal laws and regulations, we can say, ‘Here’s our policy, we are following federal law.’
Marchena also made it clear the airport itself does not do law enforcement. As the Orlando Sentinel notes:
Who would make an arrest, if anybody, is not clear.
TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz stresses that medical marijuana possession is not a pressing matter. If a large amount of marijuana is found during security checks, that discovery will be turned over to law enforcement, including possibly federal agents.
The Orlando Police Department will take no action in the event that someone is lawfully carrying medical marijuana in accordance with Florida statute.
Interestingly, the TSA recently added an additional line to its website page regarding medical marijuana:
The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
What rights do medical marijuana patients have at work?
SHORT ANSWER: Florida law does not require employers to let employees use medical marijuana at this time. Employees may still be subject to drug tests at the discretion of their employer.
This section does not limit the ability of an employer to establish, continue, or enforce a drug-free workplace program or policy. This section does not require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana. This section does not create a cause of action against an employer for wrongful discharge or discrimination. Marijuana, as defined in this section, is not reimbursable under chapter 440.
For more information, including details about the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), see: Can I Use Medical Marijuana at Work in Florida?.
Where can’t medical marijuana patients use cannabis?
According to Senate Bill 8A, medical marijuana use and/or administration is strictly prohibited in the following places:
- On any form of public transportation *
- In any public place *
- In the patient’s place of employment (unless permitted by his or her employer)
- In a state correctional institution
- On the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school
- On a school bus
- In a vehicle
- In an aircraft
- On a motorboat *
Low-THC cannabis use is permitted in categories followed by an asterisk (*).
What does CannaMD do?
Before purchasing cannabis from a medical marijuana treatment center (or dispensary), Florida patients must first qualify for a medical marijuana certification; CannaMD provides qualified patients with the state-required recommendation to complete this process.
Focused on evidence-based application of medicinal cannabis research, CannaMD offers a streamlined pre-qualification process, allowing patients to spend more one-on-one time with physicians.
We also walk you through the entire experience, step-by-step. Our mission is to provide alternative medicine to patients in need, with as little headache as possible!
CannaMD is proud to feature a network of compassionate, experienced doctors. To learn more about our state-licensed, board-certified physicians, please see: CannaMD Physicians: Meet Our Doctors.
How to get a Florida medical marijuana card
Ready to get your Florida medical marijuana card? Or just curious to learn more about the process? Contact CannaMD‘s qualified physicians at (855) 420-9170. You can also find out if you qualify for FREE by filling out a quick online application!
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