Effective June 16, 2014, the Florida Legislature passed a law that exempts a limited class of individuals (and their legal representatives) with certain medical disorders from the threat of criminal penalties for using and/or possessing “low-THC” cannabis that is ordered for use by patients by their physicians. This was a major legislative breakthrough in Florida.
Under this new “low-THC” law, the government has authorized 5 organizations to grow and dispense low-THC cannabis. It also places strict scrutiny on physicians who are considering prescribing it to their patients.
“Low-THC” cannabis is limited to that which contains 0.8% or less of THC and more than 10% of cannabidiol. Patients (including minors) with either cancer or some other “physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms” may qualify under the law if not other satisfactory alternative treatment options are available. (NOTE: There is another proposed bill that might alter this definition. HB 1313).
Unlike many other states, currently, Florida will not be issuing or requiring the use of an ID card. However, to be safe, qualifying patients must be added to the “compassionate use registry,” which is maintained by the Department of Health. Patients must also be a permanent resident of Florida, and if a minor, a second physician must concur with the initial physician’s determination.
If any person fraudulently represents that he or she has cancer or another qualifying medical condition “for the purpose of being ordered low-THC cannabis,” he or she commits a First Degree Misdemeanor.
Physicians interested in operating under this new law must complete and pass an 8-hour class and subsequent exam. That will be administered by the Florida Medical Association. If a physician wants to prescribe a “low-THC” cannabis for a patient, he or she would have to order it from one of the 5 authorized manufacturers; however, doing so would likely violate federal law. But even under State law, there are risks. If a physician orders “low-THC” for a patient without a “reasonable belief that the patient [qualifies],” he or she commits a First Degree Misdemeanor, in addition to disciplinary action by the applicable practice act.
Jordan Redavid, Esq., is a well-versed, dedicated, and passionate lawyer in the area of medical marijuana in Florida. If you are interested in becoming a patient or treating physician under Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, our Hollywood medical marijuana lawyers may be able to help you!
Two other bills, The Florida Medical Marijuana Act (SB 852) and The Cannabis Act (SB 616) died in committee in March of 2016. SB 852 would have repealing and revised provisions of the Compassionate Use act and in its place, create the Florida Medical Marijuana Act. It sought to regulate a variety of tangential aspects of the use of medical marijuana in Florida.
SB 616 would have removed cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances.
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