The Florida Legislature passed the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014.” This Act, the first to allow for the legal use of medical marijuana in certain circumstances, provides that certain patients afflicted with a very narrow set of medical conditions can legally use low–THC marijuana in this state. (Low-THC marijuana is largely devoid of the active component in marijuana that makes people “high” and, therefore, is use is thought to be subject to less abuse accordingly.) The Act was passed so that children, for example, suffering from certain seizure disorders could legally obtain and use certain low-THC marijuana (or cannabis) strains, such as Charlotte’s Web, that had been proven to improve their quality of life.
However, for now, Florida marijuana laws the legal use of medical marijuana in Florida is limited to a very narrow set of circumstances. In order to qualify to be legally able to purchase and use low-THC marijuana in Florida under the Act, a patient must be suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe muscle spasms and be examined by a doctor licensed to prescribe low-THC marijuana here. There is also a chance that the Florida legislature will expand the current law in the 2016 legislative session.
If a patient is suffering from one of the conditions described above, such as cancer or seizures, then a licensed Florida doctor who has taken specific training to be allowed to prescribe marijuana may order, for the patient’s medical use, low-THC marijuana to treat that disease or disorder, if no other satisfactory alternative treatment options exist for that paintent and all of the following conditions are met:
Once a patient has qualified for the use of low-THC and has been examined by a doctor approved to prescribe low-THC for that illness, the patient would then be able to purchase the medical marijuana from one of the five dispensaries recently licensed by the Florida Department of Health (after the patient’s doctor inputs the medical marijuana prescription into the Compassionate Use Registry). These 5 Florida dispensaries are dispersed regionally throughout the state. Here is more information on these approved Florida dispensaries: Northeast Region, Northwest Region, Southeast Region, Southwest Region, and Central Region. The Florida medical marijuana approved under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act cannot be smoked and must be taken by other means such us by taking pills or applying the Florida medical marijuana topically.
It is our current understanding that the five Florida dispensaries approved by the Florida Department of Health will begin growing the approved strains of low-THC marijuana shortly and it is now expected that qualifying patients will actually be able to legally purchase low-THC in Florida summit later this year, perhaps by as early as July, 2016 (but will more likely be available by September). Keep in mind that once the United for Care Florida marijuana petition passes, the medical marijuana laws in Florida will be greatly expanded to include more conditions and marijuana with higher THC content. We will provide regular updates as Florida medical marijuana law changes.