Florida’s Approval of Medical Marijuana

December 22, 2016 Drug Charges

florida medical marijuana law

Medical marijuana has been legalized!

The medical use of marijuana is defined as “the acquisition, possession, use, delivery, transfer, or administration of an amount of marijuana not in conflict with the Department’s rules, or of related supplies by a qualifying patient or caregiver for the use by the caregiver’s designated qualifying patient for the treatment of a debilitating medical condition.”

While this is a huge step forward for the state of Florida, there was initial confusion and criticism that forced the legalization to change shape over the years since its passing. For example, potential medical marijuana users were initially unclear on where to go to fill their medical marijuana prescriptions. Further, it took nearly two years for smoking medical marijuana to become legal. 

To clear up any uncertainty among any Floridians looking to obtain a medical marijuana card, Pumphrey Law provides insight on the State’s history of legalization of medical marijuana, explain who qualifies for medical marijuana, and how much can legally be in a qualified person’s possession. 

Background on Medical Marijuana Legalization

During the November 2016 presidential election, Florida voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Following the 71% voter approval, Amendment 2 provided that qualified physicians can legally give individuals with “debilitating medical conditions” a certification for the medical use of marijuana.

The Florida Senate passed SB 8A to establish the regulations for Amendment 2. When Rick Scott signed the bill into law on June 23, 2017, it prohibited the administration of medical marijuana by smoking in all forms. The methods that were originally permitted included vaping, marijuana edibles, oils, sprays, or tinctures.

It wasn’t until 2019 that smoking medical marijuana became legal, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation to repeal Scott’s smoking ban. DeSantis signed SB 182 titled “Medical Use of Marijuana” to layout the specific requirements for medical marijuana patients. The following states DeSantis’ response to the 2019 bill passing:

“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016. I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld. Now that we have honored our duty to find a legislative solution, I have honored my commitment and filed a joint motion to dismiss the state’s appeal and to vacate the lower court decision which had held the prior law to be unconstitutional.”

Who Qualifies for a Medical Marijuana Card?

One of the differences between the 2014 and 2016 medical marijuana initiative was that the latter better defined what constituted as a “debilitating” illness to qualify for a Florida medical marijuana card. The qualifying debilitating medical conditions to obtain a medical marijuana card in Florida include:

  • Cancer;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • HIV;
  • AIDS;
  • PTSD;
  • ALS;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Multiple sclerosis; or
  • A condition of the “same kind or class.”

 Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida

Section 29 of the Constitution of Florida lays out the groundwork for obtaining a medical marijuana card, legal possession of medical marijuana, and its limitations. Sections (a)(1-3) explain that a physician, MMTC, or qualifying medical marijuana patient are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under Florida law.  

In Florida, the only place where medical marijuana can be legally purchased is at a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC).

A Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) is defined as an “entity that acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes, transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their caregivers and is registered by the Department [Of Health].” As of May 2023, Florida has 566 opened dispensaries operated by 22 different MMTCs, with plans for more growth across the state.

A Physician certification is as a written document signed by a licensed Florida physician which states that the patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition, that the use of medical marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for the patient. The certification can only be provided after a physical exam and full health assessment has been conducted by the physician. If the medical marijuana card is meant for a minor, the certification can only be granted with a parent or legal guardian present, with their consent in writing.

If a physician issues a physician certification for a qualified medical marijuana patient, the physician has 14 days to submit the following to the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research:

  1. Documentation supporting the qualified physician’s opinion that the medical marijuana condition falls within the specified debilitating conditions or a similar condition;
  2. Documentation to establish the efficacy of marijuana as treatment for such condition;
  3. Documentation supporting the qualified physician’s opinion that the benefits of medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential risks; and
  4. Any other documentation as required by the board rule.

Once the documentation has been received, the patient or their caregiver will be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. The patient can then apply for a Registry Identification Card. When the ID card has been approved, the patient can legally purchase medical marijuana from a licensed MMTC. The patient must be sure to abide by the State’s dosing limits.

Dosing and Supply Limits for Medical Marijuana

The Florida Department of Health, along with the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, released an emergency rule to comply with Florida law regarding the dosing and limits of medical marijuana possession.

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 381.986(4)(f), a qualifying medical marijuana patient cannot receive a physician certification for more than three 70-day supply limits of marijuana or more than six 35-day supply limits of marijuana in smoking form. The 35-day limit for marijuana in smoking form cannot exceed 2.5 ounces.

The emergency rule went into effect August 26, 2022, to quantify the amount of medical marijuana limit in each form, which is listed as follows:

Method of Administration

Daily Dose Amount

70-Day Supply Limit


60 mg THC

4,200 mg THC

Inhalation (Vaporization)

350 mg THC

24,500 mg THC

Oral (Capsules, tinctures)

200 mg THC

14,000 mg THC

Sublingual (Sublingual tinctures)

190 mg THC

13,300 mg THC


150 mg THC

13,650 mg THC

Topical (Creams)

150 mg THC

10,500 mg THC

Marijuana in form for Smoking

2.025 grams


An aggregate 70-day supply limit of marijuana, other than marijuana in a form for smoking, shall not exceed 24,500 mg of THC.

Are There Exceptions to the Dose Limit?

Despite the dosing limits codified under Emergency Rule 64ER22-8, there are ways in which a qualified physician can request an exception to the daily dose limit, 35-day supply limit of marijuana in smoking form, and the 4-ounce possession limit of marijuana in a form for smoking. Under Florida Statute Section 381.986(4)(f)(1), a physician can apply for the exception by electronically submitting a request to the Department to include the following:

  1. The patient’s qualifying medical condition;
  2. The dosage and route of administration that was insufficient to provide relief to the qualified patient;
  3. A description of how the patient will benefit from an increased amount; and
  4. The sufficient minimum daily dose of marijuana for the treatment of the qualified patient’s qualifying medical condition.

Tallahassee Marijuana Defense Lawyer

While medical marijuana usage is now legal in the state of Florida, recreational use is still prohibited, and possession of marijuana is still considered a federal crime. If you were arrested and charged with a marijuana offense, contact Pumphrey Law to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. This firm is dedicated to finding the best solution for your circumstances. Our office provides free consultations when you call (850) 681-7777 or leave a message on our website.

Article Updated December 5, 2023

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