On March 18, 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill making doctor-prescribed marijuana legal to smoke. The law, effective upon the governor’s signing of the bill, decriminalizes the sale and use of smokable medical marijuana in Florida.
This legislative victory comes two years after medical marijuana was voted in by over 70 percent of voters. Following the 2016 legalization of Florida medical marijuana, Legislature passed a bill making smokable forms of marijuana unlawful in the state. This left medical marijuana patients and their doctors with fewer options for their prescription.
Although the new bill is effective immediately, the Florida Department of Health could take several months to approve new guidelines for doctors and marijuana dispensaries in Florida. This means it could be a while before medical marijuana patients will be able to begin receiving their prescription in a smokable form.
Related Article: Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana Prescriptions in Florida
The new law allows doctors to prescribe their patients up to 2.5 ounces of smokable marijuana every 35 days, in pre-rolled cigarette or flower format. Patients may possess up to 4 ounces at any given time. However, carrying more than 20 grams of marijuana without a medical marijuana card will still be considered a felony.
What the Bill Means For Medical Marijuana Patients
Until now, patients were limited to a few types of delivery methods. These methods include sublingual, oral, topical and vaporization. Vaporization methods include oil or full-flower vaping. However, flowers could only be prescribed in a tamper-proof vaping container.
With the passing of this new bill, those with a Florida medical marijuana card are able to receive a prescription for smokable forms. Patients can choose pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes or flower buds when consulting with their doctor. Paraphernalia, such as smoking pipes, and rolling papers are also legally purchasable.
Although this bill provides patients more choices in their medical marijuana delivery method, smoking is still prohibited in public, enclosed work areas and on public transportation.
Related Article: Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Creating State Hemp Program in Florida
Patients under the age of 18 may also be prescribed smokable medical marijuana, but they must:
- Be diagnosed with a terminal illness.
- Get a second opinion from a licensed pediatrician.
- Have their second opinion agree with their original diagnosis.
Those who use marijuana without a medical marijuana card are still subject to the laws outside of this bill. Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana without a prescription card is a felony.
Need a Miami Marijuana lawyer? Contact The Marijuana Law Division at The Aguilera Law Center.
What the Bill Means for Treatment Centers & Dispensaries
Medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC) and dispensaries stand to benefit from this bill as much as their patients. As the bill is effective upon signing, any registered Florida MMTC or dispensary will be able to prescribe or dispense smokable forms of medical marijuana. This includes pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes and flower buds.
Treatment centers and dispensaries will be required to produce and offer patients at least one type of pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes. However, the law does not require MMTCs and dispensaries to carry flower buds.
While the bill is in place to benefit patients and their needs, it also opens up some business opportunities for medical marijuana treatment centers and dispensaries alike. The bill makes way for some regulation changes from the Florida Department of Health (DOH), which are to be implemented in the months following the bill being signed into law.
These changes in DOH regulation will make it easier and less costly for a cannabusiness to meet state compliance. The bill also legalizes the sale of smoking paraphernalia and rolling papers. Businesses will begin to see higher sales and profits as the new regulations are rolled out in Florida.
Despite the more favorable regulations, it is still crucial for a cannabusiness to follow the specific guidelines the state has set for a business of its kind. Both new and established treatment centers and dispensaries should consider cannabusiness consulting before implementing changes to meet state compliance.
Contact The Marijuana Law Division at The Aguilera Law Center for a compliance consultation.