Amendment 2 came into effect in Florida on January 3, 2017. It allowed patients with a debilitating medical condition to purchase medical marijuana. However, there were protests against the legalization of cannabis in the state. It was only on June 15, 2017, that Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law. Newly qualified patients were permitted to purchase cannabis with any THC content from July 1, 2017, onward.
Hundreds of thousands of patients are on the MMJ program, with countless more hoping to follow suit.
However, opening a legal MMJ dispensary in Florida is a long, drawn-out process. As a result, patients are only now beginning to get a reasonable degree of access to cannabis. Furthermore, Floridians on the program were only allowed to smoke marijuana from March 18, 2019! In the intervening period, you could only use capsules, vape devices, oils, and capsules. Finally, there are dozens of stores open for business.
Fortunately, the process is pretty well-organized and streamlined for user-friendliness. If you are a legal Florida resident and need a Florida marijuana license (MMJ Card), this comprehensive guide is for you. First, however, let’s look into the existing cannabis laws and penalties for users who don’t possess an MMJ card.
Florida MMJ Laws
Unless you are a medical marijuana patient in Florida, the penalties for using the substance are relatively severe. At present, the state has yet to decriminalize the use or possession of cannabis. Therefore, you could be charged with a misdemeanor if caught with any amount of the drug. This may result in up to a year in prison, along with a maximum fine of $1,000.
The possession or sale of 20.01 grams or more is a felony, with a possible jail term of five years and a $5,000 fine. Also, the possession of any amount of hashish or concentrates is a felony with up to five years in prison as the maximum penalty.
Therefore, unless you seek medical marijuana treatment and have an MMJ card, it is risky to use the drug in Florida. Now, let’s take a look at the application process.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida: The Complete Rundown
The general process of applying for and obtaining medical cannabis in Florida hasn’t changed much in the last few years. Unlike many other states, Florida permits permanent or seasonal residents to access the MMJ program. You are a ‘seasonal’ resident if you:
- Live in Florida for at least 31 consecutive days in a year
- Maintain a temporary residence
- Return to the state at least once a year
- Are registered to vote or pay income taxes in Florida
Here is the full MMJ in Florida process:
Step 1) Get Your Medical Records and Make an Appointment with a Doctor
The first step to get a Florida medical marijuana card is to obtain your medical records and receive a signed physician’s statement from a doctor. You can only use a licensed doctor who is in the state’s Medical Marijuana Use Registry. Check on the Florida DOH website for an updated list of Florida medical marijuana doctors. There is also a list of qualifying physicians on the OMMU page.
Only residents are permitted to get an MMJ card in Florida. You need to provide proof of residency. Examples include a Florida I.D., a passport, or another form of photo identification.
Step 2) Go to Your MMJ Doctor Consultation
At the appointment, your doctor will perform a medical examination and ask a few questions. The goal is to determine whether you are a good candidate for MMJ. If the doctor thinks you are and diagnoses you with a qualifying condition, you can proceed.
The physician will enter your name and information into the Florida Marijuana Use Registry (aka the Compassionate Care Registry). The state’s Department of Health is in charge of it. You can’t apply for your FL MMJ card until you are officially in the Registry.
- Your doctor can apply, or you can submit the application yourself.
- Only the physician can enter you in the Compassionate Use Registry.
Step 3) Complete and Submit Your Application Online
Once in the Registry, you can submit a completed form to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. If your paperwork isn’t in order, the DOH will ask you to reapply with the proper documentation. You receive an email notification if your application is approved.
You can temporarily order from a licensed MMJ dispensary with the approval email until you receive your ID card.
Florida MMJ law states that patients can obtain a marijuana certification for a 70-day supply with two refills. This should not be confused with the 35-day limit, which is for smokable cannabis only. Furthermore, a medical doctor in the state must see a patient every 210 days to renew the certification. The actual MMJ card itself is valid for 12 months.
Updated Information on Getting Your Florida Medical Marijuana Card
Those interested in learning about the Florida MMJ program updates should visit the Medical Marijuana Use Registry or the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU). Indeed, there have been some important changes to the program in recent times.
One of the relevant concerns relates to the new practice standards for physicians who certify smoking MMJ as a means of administration. These new standards came into effect on July 13, 2021. For instance, the physician must discuss the risks and benefits of using smokable marijuana.
In addition, the doctor must conduct a physical examination while in the same room as the patient. This means physicians are not permitted to certify smokable cannabis via an online consultation.
MMJ patients must sign a new standardized consent form, which includes information on the dangers of smoking near oxygen tanks. It was a necessary step as a report published by the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine showed that approximately 95% of patients with certifications for MMJ have at least one order for smokable marijuana.
What Are the Florida Medical Cannabis Card Costs?
When applying for a medical marijuana card in Florida, applicants have two fees to pay:
- The initial payment to meet with the qualified physician (cost varies depending on location).
- The registration fee for the application, which is $75.
Also, full-face, passport-type color photographs are required, so this may carry an additional small cost.
You need to renew the MMJ card annually. This process includes having to pay your doctor consult fees and the $75 registration fee again. You should complete the renewal process 45 days before the expiration date. However, unlike many other state MMJ programs, Florida patients also have to pay for the 210-day renewal appointment.
[You can find more information on the FL MMJ application process by visiting the official website of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use]
Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Card in Florida
Patients in Florida diagnosed with one of the following “debilitating medical conditions” are afforded legal protection under the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (as per Amendment 2):
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS / Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV / AIDS
- Chronic muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Any ailment/condition “of the same severity/symptoms” (as determined by the recommending physician)
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a doctor other than the physician issuing the certification
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying condition. You are also eligible if this pain originates from a qualifying condition and persists “beyond the usual course” of the disease
How Long Does It Take to Get a Medical Card in Florida?
When the program began, there was a severe lack of licensed doctors willing to provide MMJ certification. Indeed, between October 2018 and March 2019, 89 physicians were responsible for approving 95,000 patients, well over half of the entire number of MMJ certifications in Florida at that time!
This resulted in a situation where becoming a medical marijuana patient involved a considerable waiting period. At the time, members of the Physician Certification Pattern Review Panel voiced their concerns and urged the Florida Department of Health to set guidelines. Otherwise, doctors would continue rushing through certifications.
By the beginning of 2021, there were over 5,000 registered medical marijuana doctors in Florida.
Things did change, and by the beginning of 2021, there were over 5,000 registered medical marijuana doctors in Florida. Therefore, MMJ patients find it quick and easy to make appointments with medical professionals who perform thorough examinations.
Once you have completed the required steps and pay the application fee, the Florida Department of Health will send approval confirmation by email. According to the OMMU, the average wait time for approving applications is five days. It also takes an average of five days to print and send out the physical MMJ card.
Other Important Information on the Florida Medical Marijuana License Process
While we’ve outlined the general process for how to apply for medical marijuana. Florida also has a few “unique” rules and regulations that it behooves you to be aware of. Here are answers to some of the most common FAQ concerning medical cannabis in Florida:
My Florida Medical Marijuana Card has Expired. How Do I Get a Renewal?
A patient (or their legal representative) must annually submit a renewal application, along with the application fee. You are also required to include accompanying documents to the department 45 days before the card expiration date.
Can I Get My Medical Card Online in Florida?
Yes, you can, and it is extremely easy. After receiving certification from a doctor, go to the OMMU website and look for the ‘Patients’ tab. From there, you can learn everything you need to know about the process and apply for an ID card. It is also possible to log into the Registry on the same site.
How Much Marijuana Can I Buy & Possess?
At present, MMJ patients in Florida have access to a maximum of 2.5 ounces of smokable marijuana every 35 days. A doctor is allowed to certify up to six x 35-day supplies during the 210-day certification period. Regarding other forms of cannabis, a physician can certify up to a 70-day supply and two refills in 210 days. The DOH has yet to determine what constitutes a maximum daily dose.
Once I Have My Florida MMJ Card, Where Can I Buy Marijuana?
You or your legal caretaker can buy cannabis products from a licensed medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) in the state of Florida. Currently, there are over 140 operating locations in the state. If you don’t live near a physical location, however, most dispensaries offer free delivery across the entire state. The main players include Curaleaf, Altmed/MUV, and Trulieve, who dominate the market.
Once I Have My MMJ Card, Can I Grow My Own Marijuana?
No. Florida law only allows licensed dispensing organizations to grow, process, and distribute marijuana. The department will refer any business or individual suspected of violating state law to local law enforcement for investigation. It is important to remember that marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Can I Take My Meds to a Different State?
No. According to current laws in the state, you can only use cannabis in Florida with a state MMJ card. Medical marijuana patients may face federal and local charges of transporting marijuana if they cross state lines with the drug. This is still true even if the states between which they are traveling allow medical marijuana.
Also, Florida does not have a reciprocity agreement at the time of writing.
Who Can Use Medical Marijuana in Florida?
Florida law has several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis. Here are the general outlines for MMJ use within the state:
|Qualifying condition||A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition (see full list above)|
|Residency||All MMJ patients must be a Florida resident, and be able to provide proof of residency|
|Age limitations||If under the age of 18, a Florida patient must have a second physician agree to the use of medical cannabis in order to obtain a valid MMJ identification card|
|Prior treatments||A qualified MMJ patient must have tried other forms of treatment without success|
|Physician determination||The recommending physician must determine that the risk(s) of cannabis use are “reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient”|
|Compassionate Use Registry||All patients must be registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by their ordering physician|
Can I Use Medical Marijuana Anywhere in Florida?
Similar to most states with an active MMJ program, the use of any form of medical cannabis in Florida is prohibited in public places.
How Do I Appoint a Caregiver?
You can appoint a caregiver, as long as they meet the following criteria:
- NOT a qualified physician.
- NOT employed or have an economic interest in an MMJ testing laboratory or treatment center.
- Aged 21+ and a resident of Florida.
- They agree to help you with MMJ in writing.
- Complete a caregiver certification course. It costs a maximum of $100 and is renewed every two years.
- Pass a background screening. There is an exception to this rule if your caregiver is a close relative.
A caregiver can only help one patient unless that patient is a minor, and the caregiver is a legal guardian or parent. Other exceptions include patients with a developmental or intellectual disability or who are admitted to a hospice.
What Is the Total Annual Cost of a Florida Medical Marijuana Card?
The need to have a consultation with a doctor every 210 days ensures that the Florida MMJ program is more expensive than most. The MMJ card application costs $75, while the initial doctor’s appointment costs between $150 and $250.
The 210-day certification tends to cost $200, and you may have to pay $100 for the three x 70-day or 6 x 35-day supplies of marijuana. Then there is the small matter of $75 to renew your card annually and the cost of the cannabis itself.
Therefore, you could pay $600+ during your first year before renewing your card. This does NOT consider how much the marijuana itself costs.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Florida Medical Marijuana Card
In recent times, the process of becoming an MMJ patient in Florida has become significantly easier. You can apply online and receive certification from one of the thousands of licensed physicians. Successful applicants get their cards within ten days and can buy cannabis from one of the hundreds of dispensaries.
However, the process involves a new certification with a doctor every 210 days, and there is also a fee involved when a doctor allows you to get your 35 or 70-day supply. Nonetheless, for MMJ patients in need, the additional cost is well worth it.
[If you have any other questions on how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida, feel free to view our Florida FAQ Page or contact us through our Facebook page!]
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