Questions and answers about medical marijuana in Florida

By Stephen Nohlgren

Monday's Florida Supreme Court ruling puts medical marijuana on the November general election ballot. If the proposed constitutional amendment passes by at least 60 percent of the vote, state health officials will have to sort out many details before patients can legally obtain pot. Some specifics, however, are outlined in the proposed amendment. Here is what is known about how medical marijuana would work in Florida:

Who could use medical marijuana?

A person with a doctor's certificate stating that the patient qualifies for medical marijuana. The Florida Department of Health would issue an identification card to be shown at purchase. The card would let law enforcement know the patient can possess amounts set by law.

What medical conditions would qualify?

Specific diseases or other "debilitating" conditions for which the doctor thinks benefits of use would outweigh risk. Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Crohn's disease are all specified.

When could a patient start legally using marijuana?

The effective date of the amendment is Jan. 6. After that date, the Department of Health must implement regulations within six months and begin issuing identification cards within nine months. If the department fails to issue cards within nine months, the doctor's certification will serve as identification.

How much marijuana could a patient possess?

That will be determined by the Department of Health, based on what is "reasonably presumed to be an adequate supply.'' Patients who think they need more could appeal. Marijuana, oil, tinctures and cannabis-laced food products would be allowed.

How would a patient fill a prescription?

There will be no prescriptions because marijuana is not an FDA-approved medicine with controlled doses. It would be more like an over-the-counter herb. Certifying doctors must be licensed in Florida and perform a physical exam and "full assessment of a patient's history," but the amendment does not require doctors and patients to have an ongoing relationship.

Where would medical marijuana be sold?

Only at state-licensed dispensaries called "Medical Treatment Centers." Growers would also be licensed as treatment centers. The Department of Health would issue rules about how dispensaries would be monitored. Growing your own pot would remain illegal, as it is under current law.

What if the Department of Health writes regulations so restrictive that usage is effectively banned?

The department must issue "timely" and "reasonable" rules that "ensure the availability and safe use of medical marijuana by qualifying patients." If the regulations are too restrictive, any Florida citizen could sue to enforce constitutional intent.

Can caregivers possess marijuana?

A person over 21 can buy and handle the marijuana on behalf of up to five patients. Caregivers would have an identification card issued by the state.

How old must a patient be?

The amendment does not set age limits. In other states, use by minors requires parental consent, as with traditional medicinal treatments.

Would insurance cover it?

That would be up to the insurer. The amendment does not require coverage. Medicare does not cover nonprescription drugs and supplements.

What about using it at work or in schools?

Schools and employers would be free to prohibit on-site use. The amendment does not prohibit employers from requiring drug tests or imposing sanctions for positive results.

Would information on identification cards be public?

No. The Department of Health must keep records confidential, even from employers or family members. But the information could be disclosed for "valid medical or law enforcement purposes.''

Could the Legislature set up its own system to regulate medical marijuana?

Yes, but it could not contradict the amendment. For example, the Legislature could not make dispensaries illegal. However, it could permit home cultivation, which is now banned by statute.

Could the Florida Supreme Court ruling on the ballot language be appealed?

Not successfully. Federal courts leave interpretation of state constitutions to state courts.

Could pot-smoking in public be regulated just as cigarette smoking is regulated?

Yes. Calling it medicine does not confer the right to use pot anywhere.

What about DUI?

Driving under the influence of "medical" marijuana would still be illegal, as with alcohol.

Copyright © 2014, Tampa Bay Times

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Showing 45 reactions

commented 2016-04-14 15:43:51 -0400 · Flag
I currently live in Nevada. here medical marijuana has been legal for over 10 years. there is a legalization item on the ballot for this november that will likely pass. under our law as it is currently, you are allowed to grow up to 12 plants and have 2.5 oz of prepared medical marijuana on hand at one time, though smoking in public places is still currently illegal. I am considering moving to Florida, and am shocked to find it is still so backward!
commented 2016-04-12 00:36:28 -0400 · Flag
Advance degenerative disc disease qualifies as debilitating condition. I believe it does. I know because I feel weakness when I am in a lot of pain
commented 2016-04-02 07:02:30 -0400 · Flag
I agree with Deborah Turner…
commented 2016-04-01 10:14:29 -0400 · Flag
big money wants to sell weed to the people thy are missing the need of the people wake up people vote this down
commented 2016-04-01 10:12:54 -0400 · Flag
i would vote it down,the people should be able to grow there own,the same people that made it illeagle now want to sell it to you .at very high the weed it was on this earth for the people not for corp world money grabbers its not about helping the people it is about the money.
commented 2016-03-09 22:27:25 -0500 · Flag
I think it’s ridiculous that conditions that cause chronic pain weren’t added because after all it’s much safer to take Percocet 10mg three times a day or get a morphine pump for Degenerative Disc Disease then Medical Marijuana. Because we all know as a 57 year old woman Marijuana is the Gateway drug. Oh, wait smoked it in High School and College and made almost straight A’s. Then was a Honorably Discharged Veteran, Pastor’s Wife, Family Support Worker, Early Childhood Educator. I have been married to my first husband for 37 years with 2 wonderful college educated happily married children. When I decided to not smoke pot, and dedicated my life to My Father, I just quit. When I tried to give up cigarettes, now that was tribulation. I choose to be in pain and in bed most of the time. Why because opium pain killers are addictive! Medical Marijuana, NOT! As a Conservative, Christian, Veteran, Voter Disabled Mature Women, I don’t think this legislation was made with wisdom or forethought. Medical Marijuana is not evil. That is a lie started based on prejudice propaganda when people were prejudice idiots and apparently still are.
commented 2016-02-07 08:28:14 -0500 · Flag
I believe the growing at home will eventually be added by the Senate after the initial
Measure has passed. Once it’s legal here I believe a mmj card from other states would fall under the recognizing legal documents from other states statute, similar to gay marriage license was only recognized in certian states, now they are recognized in all states. My question is how do we change federal law about mj? Can we end Marijuana prohibition like they ended alcohol?
commented 2016-01-20 21:46:32 -0500 · Flag
commented 2016-01-06 07:02:52 -0500 · Flag
Time to move back to Florida..
commented 2016-01-06 07:02:21 -0500 · Flag
Time to move back to Fla.
commented 2015-12-23 10:06:01 -0500 · Flag
If you cant grow your own medicine its another lie and trap
commented 2015-11-21 13:59:56 -0500 · Flag
They must let patients grow they’er own medicine.
followed this page 2015-09-13 12:39:21 -0400
commented 2015-05-25 13:08:32 -0400 · Flag
I am a registered Medical Marijuana patient in my home state. What are the laws concerning bringing my prescription into Florida with me while visiting Disney World?
commented 2015-04-17 15:29:12 -0400 · Flag
commented 2015-02-14 10:02:43 -0500 · Flag
According to HB 528 That Rep Jeff Brandes introduced the dispensary would have to pay a state license fee of 25, 000 for a 2 year license, 500, 000 insurance and a 1, 000, 000.00 bond. Its even worse for the grower. They want to make sure its just them and their buddies that make the real profits.
commented 2014-12-16 00:44:56 -0500 · Flag
I am a 40 yr old male. My Epilepsy started when I was 15! intractable epilepsy, no aura, failed all meds! Had a Left Temple Lobe resurrection&Vagus nerve stimulator! My Neurologist is saying that I am at very high risk of having a SUDEP!!! The only thing that was the best for my epilepsy is medicinal marijuana that I had when I lived in Maine!!!Now I live in Florida. went 18 months with no seizure on medicinal marijuana! Why not let marijuana through? The differently don’t care for any citizen!!!!! The ATF pass why not pot? Compare the death from single use of marijuana to ATF!!!
commented 2014-11-06 07:33:16 -0500 · Flag
I have a friend whose 28 year old daughter has tremendous amounts of epileptic seizures every day. We talked about Charlotte’s Web but she said her daughter “aged out” for it. Is there an age limit or some type of restrictions on it? How does one go about getting it?
commented 2014-11-03 09:53:31 -0500 · Flag
I agree with Buddy here and in Colorado they are permitted to grow up to 6 plants with no more than 3 flowering at one time. I hope the Legislature will consider following other states in this and give us freedom to grow. The reason to promote growth, is it’s much cheaper and perhaps better to know it’s not chemically treated with anything. I understand it took 9 months in Colorado before they were able to grow without legal repercussions.
commented 2014-11-03 09:53:20 -0500 · Flag
I agree with Buddy here and in Colorado they are permitted to grow up to 6 plants with no more than 3 flowering at one time. I hope the Legislature will consider following other states in this and give us freedom to grow. The reason to promote growth, is it’s much cheaper and perhaps better to know it’s not chemically treated with anything. I understand it took 9 months in Colorado before they were able to grow without legal repercussions.
followed this page 2014-03-28 13:23:09 -0400