Florida. The Sunshine State. Home of some of the best theme parks in the world, the Kennedy Space Center, seemingly endless beaches, top-notch seafood, hordes of retirees, and the infamous Florida Man. While it remains one of the top holiday state destinations, recent changes in government are making it more and more conservative, to the point that many are now reconsidering the idea of visiting Florida at all.
But what about the residents? The people who call Florida home?
As part of the gun-toting South, are they allowed the same basic freedoms that many of their countrymen in less conservative states enjoy?
Well, when it comes to cannabis regulation, they are most definitely not…
- The History Of Marijuana In Florida
- Is Recreational Weed Legal In Florida?
- Is Medical Marijuana Legal In Florida?
- Does Florida Recognize Medical Marijuana Cards From Other States?
- Are There Weed Dispensaries In Florida?
Florida still lags behind large sections of the US in this regard, but things are slowly starting to change. Let's take a look at the exact laws surrounding both medicinal and recreational marijuana use in the Sunshine State, and how they may affect you.
But before we dive headfirst into the mess that is marijuana laws in Florida, let's take a brief look at the history of weed in FL, yeah?
It should come as anything but a surprise that Florida was at the true precipice of the prohibition on marijuana in the early 1930s. Up until this point, cannabis had been used in medicinal and recreational settings for untold millennia and had enjoyed a relatively positive reputation due to its various medicinal properties.
In the early 1900s, however, this all changed. On October 16, 1933, 21-year-old Floridian Victor Licata used an axe to murder his entire family, and the term "Reefer Madness" was brought into the public lexicon.
Remember, this was a time vastly different to the current day, and the public understanding of the benefits of marijuana was at an all-time low.
Harry J. Anslinger had been running his “devil's harvest” campaign since 1929 and had successfully managed to have marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug at the Federal Level in 1930. What followed was an almost global restriction on the herb and its various uses, with Florida being one of the more vocal proponents of banning marijuana.
By 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act had been passed into law, which saw the drug completely banned from use in any form. This act was quickly followed by multiple laws which attempted to restrict possible uses of cannabis.
And so, it stayed until recent times. We will dig deep into the current laws surrounding both medicinal and recreational cannabis use as the article continues.
Nope, weed remains illegal for consenting adults to partake in, even in 2023.
Florida's residents still do not have full autonomy over their own bodies when it comes to the herb, and any attempts at recreational use can land you in serious hot water with both state and federal authorities.
For possession, that is totally dependent on which county you reside in. Starting in 2015, certain counties and municipalities throughout Florida started decriminalizing small quantities of everyone's favorite plant, but the list of areas where this has been enacted is nowhere near exhaustive.
The counties where small quantities have been decriminalized are
- Alachua County
- Port Richey
- Cocoa Beach
- Miami Beach
- Palm Beach County
- Hallandale Beach
- Key West
- West Palm Beach
- Volusia County
- Osceola County
- Miami-Dade County
- Broward County
In these counties, the possession of up to 20 grams of dried cannabis flower will result in a $75-$100 fine for the first offense, a $150-$250 fine for a second offense, and a $300-$500 fine for a third offense. You may also be ordered to join a drug education program or conduct some hours of community service if you are caught in possession of under 20 grams of the devil's lettuce.
Outside these areas, even tiny quantities of pot can result in up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine.
Growing cannabis plants is also illegal, regardless of the county you live in. Possessing any cannabis plant can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom in the Sunshine State!
While the first vote on medical marijuana failed in 2014, we saw the bill finally passed in 2016. This saw medical marijuana become legalized for patients suffering from a wide array of conditions.
How Do You Get A Medical Marijuana License In Florida?
Getting a medical marijuana license in Florida is fairly straightforward, but you need to meet certain criteria before your application can be approved.
There is a four-step process that every medicinal marijuana patient has to go through before they receive their Medical Marijuana Card, which includes
- Being diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
- Being entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry by their doctor
- Only then can patients apply for their Registry Identification Card
- Once you have received your card, you can fill your order at one of the state-licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers
The list of qualifying conditions for Florida residents includes.
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Nonmalignant Pain
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Terminal Conditions
Nope. If you want access to medicinal cannabis in Florida, you must apply for medical marijuana through the state of Florida. Both permanent and semi-permanent residents are able to apply for a medical card in Florida.
Yes, there are. Many leading dispensaries are operating throughout the state, such as MUV, Trulieve, Columbia Care, Medmen, Liberty Health Sciences, Curaleaf, and Growhealthy.
These dispensaries are your one-stop shop for all things medical marijuana. They have an array of products available, from dried flower to edibles and tinctures, and you can visit anyone you like as long as you have a medical card ready to present.
Despite the laws surrounding recreational marijuana being more restrictive than in some other states, Florida has made some promising movements in the previous decade or so. While we all wait in the hope that the laws may loosen in the near future in regard to recreational use, at least there is an option for medical marijuana users to get access to their treatment.
And while the list of qualifying conditions may not be as extensive as some other states, the fact that Florida is at least one of a handful of states that allows the use of medical marijuana is a welcome change from where we were in the early 20th century.