Since the Florida legislature passed a bill expanding medical marijuana use in our state, many Floridians want to understand more about how the laws have changed and what is actually happening.Things are still evolving and businesses and communities are working out the details, but here’s what’s going on right now.
Medical Marijuana It's the Law… Except Where It’s Not
In 2016, over 70 percent of Florida voters approved the measure to allow medical marijuana use. However, cities can pass moratoriums to limit the placement and number of medical marijuana centers in their municipalities. Currently, Vero Beach is banning the placement of any more dispensaries, though the first one has been approved.
No Smoking Allowed
Since Florida laws do not allow lawful marijuana smoking, the 50,000 Floridians who applied for use must buy marijuana in liquid or topical form to treat an approved list of medical conditions.Medical marijuana comes in oral drops, vape pen cartridges, or skin applications.
Dispensaries Open for Business
Across the state of Florida, 21 dispensaries are now selling medical marijuana. A medical marijuana center looks like a medical office. Patients must present a valid medical marijuana ID card to be admitted inside. The center employs workers who have passed background checks, as well as an armed officer for security. The law permits purchase of a maximum 70-day supply under a doctor’s prescription.
Concessions for Federal Law
Because federal law prevents marijuana from being sent through the mail, centers are permitted to provide courier services for patients.Also, cash or debit cards can be used to purchase supplies, but not credit cards.
Your Rights… and Drawbacks
Even though the law states that you can take medical marijuana with a prescription, employers who use routine urine tests still have the right to terminate your employment if THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, shows up on your test. Expect future lawsuits to address this paradox.To register for medical marijuana use, you must apply for a valid ID through the Florida Department of Health. If you have any of the following medical conditions, your doctor may recommend medical marijuana for your treatment.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Other similar conditions
- Chronic non-malignant pain (such as arthritis)
- Terminal conditions
Penalties for Violating Medical Marijuana Laws
The new law outlines several types of penalties for misuse. Some of the penalties are listed below. First degree misdemeanorPhysician issues a certificate for use without patient’s qualifying conditionPatient fraudulently tells physician they have qualifying condition so as to obtain certificate of useQualified patient uses medical marijuana in a public setting Caregiver violation: second or subsequent offense Second degree misdemeanorFailure to produce registry ID card when requested by law enforcement officerCaregiver violation: first offenseFailure of individual transporting medical marijuana to present authorized documentation Third degree felonySelling, distributing, possessing, giving, or manufacturing a counterfeit form of marijuana that originated from a licensed dispensaryPossessing or manufacturing a stolen, unlawful, or fraudulent registry ID card
Dispensary penaltiesDispensaries who violate sections of the new law may receive notices to cease and desist. Citations of up to $5,000 per incident may apply, and civil penalties between $5,000 and $10,000 for each offense may be pursued, along with attorney fees and court costs.As more Floridians seek relief with medical marijuana, more legal issues will arise. If you need legal assistance with any aspect of the new medical marijuana laws, be sure to contact the offices of an experienced Florida criminal attorney who will protect your freedoms.About the Author: Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he's done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.