Marijuana and the Law

The Florida Legislature passed SB 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 during the 2014 legislative session to specifically allow for the medical usage of “low-THC cannabis.” In addition, in 2016 the legislature passed HB 307, which allows for the usage of “medical cannabis.” Unless otherwise noted, the two pieces of legislation will be referred to collectively as “the Act.”

Section 893.02(3) was amended to make it clear that the term “cannabis” did not include “low-THC cannabis” as long as it is “manufactured, possessed, sold, purchased, delivered, distributed, or dispensed,” pursuant to Florida law.

The Act defined “low-THC cannabis” as a “plant of the genusCannabis, the dried flowers of which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol weight for weight; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization.”

“Medical cannabis” was defined as “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, sale, derivative mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization for medical use by an eligible patient.”

Notwithstanding the provisions in the Florida Statutes that made it unlawful to purchase and possess cannabis, the Act provided that a “qualified patient and the qualified patient’s legal representative may purchase and possess for the patient’s medical use up to the amount of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis ordered for the patient.”

Under the Act, a physician licensed under chapter 458 (MDs) or chapter 459 (DOs) could order low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis for their patient’s use. There were a number of conditions, restrictions and requirements imposed by the Act that a physician had to be cognizant of. The actual language of the 2014 Act can be accessed by clicking here. The language of the 2016 Act can be accessed by clicking here.

 

The law after Amendment 2

Amendment 2, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions,” was enshrined into the Florida Constitution on November 8, 2016 with 71% of Floridians voting in favor of the initiative. Because the Amendment did not contain an effective date, pursuant to Article XI, section 5.e. of the Florida Constitution, the Amendment did not become effective until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January (January 3, 2017).

The passage of Amendment 2 created a great deal of uncertainty regarding the laws and regulations in effect for physicians that wished to certify their patients as eligible for medical marijuana, low THC cannabis, or medical cannabis. The Department of Health responded to this uncertainty with the following guidance posted on the website of the Office of Compassionate Use:

Amendment 2, and the expanded qualifying medical conditions, will become effective on January 3, 2017. Section 381.986 F.S. remains in effect and the Florida Department of Health, physicians, dispensing organizations, and patients remain bound by

existing law and rule. Following Amendment 2’s effective date, the Department is directed to promulgate rules to implement Amendment 2 within 6 months, and to implement those regulations within 9 months.

Florida law permits qualified physicians to order low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with certain conditions. There are two types of cannabis products that may be ordered by qualified physicians:

  1. Low-THC Cannabis: Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC cannabis. Low-THC cannabis has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.
  2. Medical Cannabis: If a patient is suffering from a condition determined to be terminal by two physicians, he or she may qualify for medical cannabis. This product can contain significant levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC and may produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.

The department recommends speaking to your health care professional to determine if low-THC or medical cannabis products are right for you or your loved one.

 

Medical Marijuana of Florida

 

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Medical marijuana is available in Florida,
however, remains illegal under federal law.