Out of State Medical Marijuana Cards in Florida

February 8, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

Marijuana has started to become more openly accepted across the United States. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) it’s now recreationally legal in 18 states and legal for medical reasons in 37 states, including Florida. However, marijuana—also referred to as weed—is still considered a controlled substance under federal law. This means getting caught with marijuana can still get you in a lot of trouble, whether it be expensive fines or possible jail time. In addition, failing to comply with the varying medical marijuana regulations in each state can lead to serious legal repercussions.

Each state has its own regulations about medical or recreational marijuana use. Regardless of these differing regulations, there are certain acts involving medical marijuana that can result in a criminal charge. Such acts involve the manner in which someone possesses, cultivates, or distributes medical marijuana under federal and state laws. The following list includes ways in which you could illegally be using medical marijuana, despite having attained a medical marijuana card through legal means:

  • The amount of marijuana in your possession exceeds the state’s limits
  • The type of medical marijuana in your possession is illegal
  • Traveling with medical marijuana across state lines into a state where medical marijuana is illegal
  • The number of marijuana plants in your possession exceeds the legal limit
  • Distributing or sharing medical marijuana with others who do not have their own card or prescription
  • Failing to register your medical marijuana card with the proper state authority
  • Distributing marijuana in prohibited areas, including school zones

Now that many states have decided to become more open about their public use of marijuana, it raises the question: can you get charged with a marijuana crime if you obtain a legal medical marijuana card? What if you are visiting a state and you get caught with marijuana but have a medical card on you?

This blog aims to answer that question, along with providing helpful information regarding medical marijuana in the state of Florida.

Medical Marijuana Rules in Florida

Under SB 1030, also called the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, physicians are permitted to order low levels of THC cannabis to specified patients with qualified conditions. The Department of Health had to create a registry to describe the use and necessity of medical marijuana. Under authorization, certain medical centers in Florida can conduct research on cannabidiol and low-THC cannabis on patients. Through this there has been the creation of the Office of Compassionate Use.

In 2017, Senate Bill 8A was passed by the Florida Legislature, which is also referred to as the Medical Use of Marijuana Act. With this act, citizens of Florida are able to qualify for a medical marijuana card if they have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition. After being approved by a licensed physician, Florida residents would need to set up an account with Medical Marijuana Use and pay a small fee to be added to the registry and receive the proper license. Medical marijuana can only be purchased and distributed at state-licensed Medical Marijuana Centers (dispensaries).

The following is a list of regulations that must be complied with if you obtain a medical marijuana card:

  • The patient holding the medical marijuana card can only have a maximum of 4oz of marijuana flower at a time
  • The person must be 18 years or older, unless they have proof of a caregiver
  • The patient cannot use the medical marijuana on public transportation, in a public place, or on school grounds
  • The patient cannot use the medical marijuana while operating a vehicle such as a car or boat

While obtaining a medical marijuana card can give you the right to purchase medical marijuana from a dispensary, it does not place you above the law. You could still be hit with a drug possession charge in the instance that you are carrying over 4oz of marijuana, or that you do not have your medical marijuana card on your person. It is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and six months of probation if you cannot produce your medical marijuana card to an officer. However, if you have been charged but can prove you had a medical marijuana license at the time of the arrest, then the charges may  be dropped. This is not without the help of a skilled defense attorney to help with your case. To read more about marijuana charges in the state of Florida, visit our blog here.

According to the NCSL page on state medical marijuana laws, Florida does not recognize patients with medical marijuana cards from other states. 

Legal Qualifiers for Medical Marijuana

To legally purchase and use marijuana in the state of Florida, there must be a qualifying medical condition. Medical conditions must be diagnosed and documented by a healthcare professional. Medicinal use of marijuana can be used for treating certain conditions that are proven to be alleviated using marijuana.

The following is a list of potential disorders that qualify for the use of medical marijuana:

  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Nerve or spinal cord damage
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea

Transporting Marijuana from your Home State

In 2019, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved of flying with medical marijuana and CBD oil approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). However, it is still illegal to travel with CBD that contains THC. While TSA members are not searching for illegal drugs such as marijuana, according to federal law they must confiscate it and turn it into the local law enforcement if found.

If you are flying to a state where medical marijuana is legal and your medical marijuana has been taken by TSA, there is the chance you can get it back by showing the police officers your medical card. This is also why it is important to always travel with the proper license for medical marijuana.

If you are traveling by car, it is imperative to note that marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance—meaning that it is a drug or substance with a high potential for abuse. If you are caught attempting to transport it across state lines, you can be charged with a federal crime.

If you are traveling with a small amount of medical marijuana and are charged with a federal marijuana possession charge, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, and the penalties may include fines up to $1,000 and up to one year in prison. If you are caught with a large amount of marijuana crossing state lines, it could be presumed you had the intention of selling it (whether it is medical marijuana or not) and is considered a felony. The penalties include fines of $250,000 or more, and up to five years in federal prison.

Seasonal Residence Medical Marijuana Card

While Florida does not yet recognize or accept medical marijuana cards from out of state, there is one option that can help prevent you from getting in trouble with the law. There is an option to apply for a seasonal residence card.

What is a seasonal resident? It is a citizen who has lived in the state of Florida for over 30 days. You can apply for a Florida medical marijuana card if you meet this standard, along with being diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions Florida accepts for a medical marijuana card. You can prove that you are a seasonal resident with the following documents:

  • A current utility bill
  • Mail from the last two months from a government agency
  • A deed or mortgage showing property ownership in Florida
  • A lease to a rental property in Florida

Example Case

The following case is a prime example of what legal repercussions you may face when you are in possession of medical marijuana with a out-of-state medical marijuana license.

A woman from was visiting Florida from California, and law enforcement found marijuana on her person in a Florida home. The woman was arrested with a felony charge for possession. The defense to her case was that she had a medical marijuana card from her home state of California.

The medical marijuana license was reviewed during the case, and it showed that it hadn’t been issued until a week after the arrest. Unfortunately, this meant that it was not a valid defense to her case.

Even if the card was issued prior to the possession charge, it would still need to be connected to a specific prescription. If the woman could not establish that the marijuana was a prescription issued by a pharmacy, then the defense is not applicable.

Finding a Marijuana Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

While the U.S. is starting to become more open to the use of medical marijuana, there are still strict laws around the substance. Florida has not yet made marijuana legal for recreation purposes, and Florida citizens must follow the strict regulations for medical purposes if they want to avoid drug charges.

Florida does not accept out of state medical marijuana licenses. If you or someone you love has been charged with a marijuana charge in Florida—whether they live in Florida or elsewhere—it is of utmost importance that you reach out to a skilled Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Receiving substantial legal advice can make all the difference in your case. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented people of all walks of life for all sorts of charges. They are familiar with drug charges and the potential defenses that are applicable to each case. Whether you have a medical marijuana card or not, reach out to Pumphrey Law Firm at (850) 681-7777 and receive a free consultation regarding your case. 

 Written by Karissa Key

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