How do I get medicinal marijuana in Florida?
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UPDATE: Florida voters passed Amendment 2 on November 8, 2016 which provides for legal access to marijuana for medicinal use by patients who qualify. See Is Marijuana Legal in Florida for more details.
In the last several years, many states have implemented statutes authorizing the use of medicinal marijuana. Florida has recently passed laws that provide for limited access to medicinal marijuana.
Obtaining Medical Marijuana
If you feel that you absolutely need medical marijuana, you have two general options: obtain medical marijuana illegally or establish a residence where medical marijuana is authorized. Before you choose the first option, you should understand all of the consequences associated with the illegal possession of marijuana, including medical marijuana. Similarly, before you uproot and relocate, you should review both the laws in states that authorize medical marijuana and overlapping federal statutes.
States that Authorize Medical Marijuana vs. Florida
Voters in Florida have passed a constitutional amendment legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The law will go into effect in January 2017. Lawmakers must now come together to create the rules and regulations that are necessary to implement the new law. Physicians will need to undergo special training in order to certify patients for marijuana use. Patients will need to qualify for certification and obtain an ID card. Patients must have a "debilitating medical condition" to be eligible for certification. While the law is slated to go into effect in January, it could take months to put the programs and systems in place to implement it.
If you decide to move to a state that offers medical marijuana programs or that has legalized marijuana for recreational use, be sure to review all of the requirements set out by those programs as they can vary per county or community. Depending on that state’s laws, a doctor might be limited in what he or she can prescribe medical marijuana for, and it may be the case that he or she won't be able to authorize medical marijuana for your condition. The Florida doctor’s opinion can help, but your new doctor in the other state will have the final say.
Federal Laws and Medical Marijuana Use
It might be frustrating for some that Florida has not yet caught up with other states that have established and functioning medical marijuana programs or lenient recreational use laws. However, the issue will be moot as long as state and federal laws conflict. Even though you can possess medical marijuana in California pursuant to state marijuana laws, you are still considered in violation of federal statutes. Marijuana is still illegal and prosecuted following federal regulations. You could end up relocating to another state only to be convicted of possession of marijuana by federal prosecutors.
If obtaining medical marijuana is an avenue you are strongly considering, consult with a drug attorney or criminal defense attorney in Florida before you expose yourself to criminal liability. A drug attorney can provide you with the latest update in medical marijuana enforcement procedures and penalties. From there, you can make a decision on how, where, and if you should possess medical marijuana in Florida. Follow this link for more information about Florida Marijuana Laws and Florida Medical Marijuana Laws. You can aso find information about the programs other states have in place for medical marijuana from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.