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Medical Marijuana under Amendment 2

On November 8, 2016, Florida voters approved Amendment 2 to become incorporated into the Florida Constitution. Amandment 2 became effective on January 3, 2017, as Article X, Section 29 of the Florida Constitution. Amendment 2 expands the class of patients eligible to possess and use marijuana for medical purposes under Florida law. Section 29 specifically enumerates a Qualified Patient's rights to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

A patient's "medical use" is defined within Section 29 as the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer or administration of marijuana. Section 29(b) of the Florida Constitution adopted the definition of marijuana from Florida Statute Section 893.02(3) which defines marijuana as "all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin."

Section 29 also gives the state the authority to use reasonable regulations to regulate the amount of marijuana a patient can legally possess. After Amendment 2 took effect, patents began to obtain an active Physician's Certificate and Identification Card.

Under the current regulatory scheme. only a qualified ordering physician can recommend and order marijuana for a patient. The physician is responsible for complying with the Florida constitution and statutes, diagnosing the patient and determining if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm work with clients subjected to enforcement actions initiated by law enforcement and the Florida Department of Health against patients, physicians, doctors and businesses that are accused of operating outside the regulatory structure in Florida.

Call 813-250-0500 for a consultation today.


Eligibility for Medical Marijuana Patients

Florida law provides for several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive medical marijuana including:

  • A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
  • A patient must be a Florida resident.
  • If under the age of 18, a patient must have a second physician agree to the use in order to obtain an order from a qualified physician.
  • A patient must have tried other treatments without success.
  • An ordering physician must determine the risks of use are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient.
  • A patient must be registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by their ordering physician.
  • A patient must be receiving treatment from a qualified ordering physician during the immediate preceding 3 months prior to an order being placed.

The Florida Department of Health's Office of Compassionate Use (OCU) is in the process of developing a patient identification card program. The OCU is moving through the rulemaking process to create a regulatory structure for Amendment 2.

2) QUESTION: Where can I get medical marijuana?

ANSWER: A patient must first seek treatment from a qualified physician for at least three months immediately preceding their order for medical marijuana. Once the ordering physician inputs the patient’s information and the order information into the Compassionate Use Patient Registry, the patient or the patient’s legal representative will then be able to contact one of the licensed dispensing organizations and fill the order.

3) QUESTION: Can my dispensing organization provide medical marijuana for the conditions listed in the amendment?

ANSWER: It is the responsibility of the qualified ordering physician to follow the law, diagnose patients and determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. The dispensing organization must confirm an order in the Compassionate Use Registry and confirm the patient’s identity. The dispensing organization does not have access to information regarding diagnosis.

4) QUESTION: Are there any restrictions once I obtain medical marijuana ordered by a qualified physician and dispensed by a licensed dispensing organization?

ANSWER: Yes, the medical use of marijuana does NOT include the following:

  • The transfer to a person other than the qualified patient for whom it was ordered or their legal representative.
  • The use or administration on any form of public transportation, in any public place, in a qualified patient’s place of employment, if restricted by his or her employer, in a state correctional institution, on the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school or any school bus or vehicle.

5) QUESTION: Do I need a patient identification card?

ANSWER: The Department is in the process of developing a card program. Please check this website for updates.

6) QUESTION: Can I grow my own marijuana?

ANSWER: No. Florida law only allows the licensed dispensing organizations to grow, process and dispense 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 marijuana is illegal under federal law.

7) QUESTION: How do I apply to open a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center?

ANSWER: The Department is currently in the process of rulemaking and is not accepting applications for MMTCs at this time. To learn more about rulemaking for Amendment 2, please click here. The department will refer any business or individual suspected of violating state law to local law enforcement for investigation. It is important to remember marijuana is illegal under federal law.

8) QUESTION: Can I order medical marijuana for my patients?

ANSWER: In order to qualify to order medical marijuana for patients, a physician must have an active, unrestricted license as a physician under Chapter 458, F.S., or osteopathic physician under Chapter 459, F.S. Physicians who meet the above requirements may gain access to the Compassionate Use Registry after completing the required 8-hour course and examination provided by the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. Successful completion of the course is required each time a physician renews his or her license. Physicians may only order medical marijuana for a patient if he or she has treated that patient during the immediate preceding 3 months.

9) QUESTION: Can I order for the conditions listed in Amendment 2?

ANSWER: It is the responsibility of the qualified ordering physician to follow Florida constitution and statute, diagnose patients and determine if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. The Department is committed to quickly moving through the rulemaking process to create a regulatory structure for Amendment 2. For information about the rulemaking process, please click here.  In partnership with law enforcement, enforcement actions initiated by the department against patients, doctors and businesses will be focused on those operating outside the regulatory structure in Florida law. It is important to remember marijuana is illegal under federal law.

10) QUESTION: What is the difference between low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis?

ANSWER: Low-THC cannabis means a plant of the genus Cannabis, the dried flowers of which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol weight for weight; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization. Low-THC cannabis contains very low amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, and typically does not result in the “high” often associated with medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, sale, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization for medical use by an eligible patient as defined in s. 499.0295. Medical cannabis contains significant levels of the cannabinoid THC, and can result in the euphoric “high” sensation.

11) QUESTION: What is a cannabis delivery device?

ANSWER: A cannabis delivery device is an object intended for use or designed for use in preparing, storing, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis into the body.

12) QUESTION: What qualifies as a terminal condition?

ANSWER: A qualified physician may order medical cannabis for a patient with a terminal condition that is attested to by the patient’s physician and confirmed by a second independent evaluation by a board-certified physician in an appropriate specialty for that condition. Patient is defined in section 499.0295, Florida Statutes.

Florida law defines a terminal condition as a “progressive disease or medical or surgical condition that causes significant functional impairment, is not considered by a treating physician to be reversible even with the administration of available treatment options currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, and, without the administration of life-sustaining procedures, will result in death within one year after diagnosis if the condition runs its normal course.”

13) QUESTION: What are the requirements to become a qualifying patient?

ANSWER: Florida law has several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis. 

  • A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
  • A patient must be a Florida resident.
  • If under the age of 18, a patient must have a second physician agree to the use of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis in order to obtain an order from a qualified physician.
  • A patient must have tried other treatments without success.
  • An ordering physician must determine the risks of using low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient.
  • A patient must be registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by their ordering physician.

14) QUESTION: How do patients find qualified physicians who can order low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis or cannabis delivery devices?

ANSWER: A list of physicians authorized to order low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis or cannabis delivery devices for patients is located on the Patient’s tab on the Office of Compassionate Use website.

15) QUESTION: What are the requirements for a Medical Director of a Dispensing Organization?

ANSWER: A medical director must hold an active, unrestricted license as a physician under Chapter 458, Florida Statutes or as an osteopathic physician under Chapter 459, Florida Statutes. They must also complete a 2-hour continuing education course and examination. A link to the course and examination is available on the For Physician's tab located on the Office of Compassionate Use website.

16) QUESTION: Who can sell low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?

ANSWER: Florida has seven authorized dispensing organizations: CHT Medical (Chestnut Hill Tree Farm), The Green Solution (San Felasco Nurseries), Trulieve (Hackney Nursery), Surterra Therapeutics (Alpha Foliage, Inc.), Modern Health Concepts (Costa Nursery Farms), Knox Medical (Knox Nursery), and GrowHealthy (McCrory's Sunny Hill Nursery)

17) QUESTION: How can a patient purchase low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?

ANSWER: A qualified patient must first seek treatment from a qualified physician for at least three months immediately preceding their order for low-THC or medical cannabis. Once the ordering physician inputs the patient’s information and the order information into the Compassionate Use Patient Registry, the patient or the patient’s legal representative will then be able to contact one of the seven licensed dispensing organizations and fill the order.

18) QUESTION: Who can purchase cannabis from a dispensing organization?

ANSWER: Dispensing organizations may only provide low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis or a cannabis delivery device to a qualified patient or a qualified patient’s legal representative.

19) QUESTION: Who can be a qualified patient’s legal representative?

ANSWER: A legal representative is a qualified patient's parent, legal guardian acting pursuant to a court's authorization as required under section 744.3215(4), Florida Statutes health care surrogate acting pursuant to the qualified patient's written consent or a court's authorization as required under section 765.113, Florida Statutes or an individual who is authorized under a power of attorney to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the qualified patient.

20) QUESTION: How much low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis can a qualifying physician order for a patient?

ANSWER: Qualifying physicians can order no more than a 45-day supply and a cannabis delivery device needed by the patient for the medical use of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis.

21) QUESTION: Will low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis be inspected and tested?

ANSWER: Yes. Low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis must be processed within an enclosed structure away from other plants and products. Dispensing organizations are required to test the processed low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis before they are dispensed. The results must be verified and signed by two employees of the dispensary. The dispensing organization must reserve two processed samples from each batch and retain them for at least nine months.

Cannabis test results must indicate that low-THC cannabis meets the definition of low-THC cannabis and that all medical and low-THC cannabis is safe for human consumption and free from contaminants.

The dispensing organization must also contract with an independent testing laboratory to perform audits on the dispensing organization’s standard operating procedures, testing records and samples.

22) QUESTION: What are the packaging requirements for low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?

ANSWER: Packaging of low-THC and medical cannabis should be in compliance with the United States Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (15 U.S.C. ss. 1471 et seq.) They should be packaged in a receptacle that has a firmly affixed and legible label with the following information:

  • A statement that the low-THC or medical cannabis has been properly tested
  • The name of the dispensing organization from which the product originates
  • The batch number and harvest number from which the product originates