Florida has taken a long slow route on it’s way towards more permissive marijuana laws. Actually, less restrictive would be a better term, but that’s a huge improvement from where the law was before. It used to be demonized in the same way that cocaine was in the 80’s, heroin was in the 90’s, and opioids are today.
Of course, those are much harder drugs than weed, so it gives you a good picture of what the perception of marijuana used to be and what it is now. So, where do the Florida weed laws stand now? Let’s take a closer look.
Marijuana for Medical Use in Florida
The legal use of medical marijuana was passed in 2016 and implemented in 2017. This is all thanks to Florida Amendment 2, aka the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which was approved by voters in the November 2016 general election.
There was a similar bill that was proposed in 2014, but it failed to pass. The 2016 bill made several notable improvements that contributed to its success. They included making sure that minors have parental consent, and that the condition of a chronic illness is more clearly defined.
The passage of the bill allows patients to use cannabis and cannabis related products like CBD to treat their conditions. CBD has been scientifically proven to have several benefits that can help patients. It can provide pain relief, provide stress relief, and has anti-convulsive properties that can help people suffering from seizure inducing disorders. CBD can be used in a variety of ways, from edibles to capsules to oil vaporizers, so people have a choice in how it is administered.
How to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida
You can visit the page about getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida for more details but here is a brief summary of the process:
- The applicant must be the patient of a doctor who is licensed to prescribe medical marijuana in the state of Florida, and they must have been a patient of that doctor for at least three months before receiving their diagnosis.
- The prescribing doctor will then enter the applicant into Florida’s Marijuana Use Registry. Until this information is entered in the registry, the patient cannot apply for a medical marijuana card in Florida.
- Once the doctor has entered the patient into the registry, an application for a medical marijuana card can be submitted. There is an application fee of $75 and patients must submit a full face, color passport photo taken during the 90 days preceding application. They must also submit a copy of their FL driver’s license, ID card, or proof of residency.
Visit the Registry Identification Card page on the Florida Health website when you are ready to start the process.
Once the card has been obtained, the patient can take it to a dispensary to obtain their medical marijuana. They can also receive their marijuana via courier if necessary. Note that the vaping of weed is permitted but smoking it is not.
Cannabis for Recreational Use in Florida
Back in 1933, 20 year old Victor Licata killed his parents, two brothers, and his sister with an axe. Even though he had a history of mental illness, the authorities blamed this horrific incident on his use of marijuana. A day later, the Tampa Police Chief minimized the role cannabis played in the massacre but nevertheless pledged to eliminate it completely. This sentiment was echoed by the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics—a precursor to the DEA—, Harry Anslinger.
He used the Victor Licata case as part of his campaign to prove that marijuana causes insanity and criminal behavior. Views on cannabis would eventually soften, but Anslinger’s legacy would still be felt in the incredibly high incarceration rates of people—especially people of color—who used or sold weed during the War on Drugs. This would have a detrimental effect on Florida weed laws and hinder legalization for years to come.
Charges and Penalties
|Offense||Charge||Maximum Incarceration||Maximum Fine|
|Possession of 20 grams or less||First Degree Misdemeanor||1 Year||$1000|
|Possession of more than 20 grams||Third Degree Felony||5 Years||$5000|
Where Will Florida’s Marijuana Law Go Next?
Florida has come a long way from the paranoia and hysteria of the 1930’s to the reason and sanity of today. The passage of the bill legalizing medical marijuana is a step in the right direction, but it is still not quite close to complete legalization.
However, the fact that there has not been any significant backlash to the passage of the medical marijuana bill suggests that voters are fairly open-minded. Will Florida’s weed laws become more permissive and allow legalization for recreational use? No one can say, but at least the Sunshine State is looking a little brighter.