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Is CBD Legal in Florida?

Is CBD Legal in Florida?

Florida, the state of white sandy beaches, lush palm trees, swampy everglades, and as of January 2017, cannabidiol (CBD). Marijuana was legalized in the Sunshine State over a year ago, meaning that both high and low-THC strains of marijuana are accessible for medicinal applications. Floridians, who obtain it through the approved channels, have legal access to CBD oil across the state for the first time.

For Those Who Persevere, Florida Has Access to Legal CBD Oil

As is the case in many of the states which allow legal access to CBD oil, Florida’s Amendment 2 passed with overwhelming statewide support. According to the polls, over 70 percent of citizens supported the Amendment. Clearly, Floridians approve of providing marijuana to patients who need it.[1]

Yet, despite the massive rate of approval, Florida still has some of the strictest state laws. Unlike Oregon, Colorado, and others, state regulators did not approve recreational use of the plant. Cannabis is only supported for medicinal applications and with special provisions.

RELATED: Idaho's Vote About CBD Legality – The Drama Continues

Getting Access to CBD, Legal Hurdles

In Florida, obtaining CBD legally is not as simple as wandering into a public dispensary and buying the goods. It takes a long rigamarole before each patient receives approval for their medical prescription. Although medical marijuana was technically passed in 2014, it was only approved for two conditions - cancer and epilepsy. Today, the citizens of Florida may get access to a cannabis prescription if they have one of the following conditions:

  • AIDS/HIV+
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain
  • Crohn's disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Terminal illness
  • … and other comparable medical conditions. [1]

RELATED: The Healing Effects of CBD On Brain Injuries

Before gaining access, patients need to speak with a certified physician. Physicians with an active medical license can apply for access to the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, but only once they have completed the associated coursework and exam. Every time a doctor needs to renew their marijuana license, they must complete the course and examination again. [3][4]

Hurdles in getting access to legal CBD oil

After a patient visits a certified physician, they don’t immediately gain access to medical marijuana or legal CBD oil. Instead, the doctor records their information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, and the patient then applies for a Compassionate Use Registry Identification Card. It takes roughly a month for this process to complete.

But, even with the Compassionate Use card in hand, a prescription for medicinal marijuana is not easily accessible. Only state approved Medical Marijuana Treatment facilities are allowed to dole out prescriptions for cannabis. According to Florida Health, mouthpiece for the Florida Department of Health, only “licensed medical marijuana treatment centers are authorized to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana.” There are currently 32 local dispensaries for the entire state of Florida. [5]

Are There Any More Restrictions on Accessing Legal CBD Oil in Florida?

With some of the strictest legislation in the country, Florida prohibits people from smoking any unprocessed marijuana flower.

Are There Any More Restrictions on Accessing Legal CBD Oil in Florida?

Although vaping, edibles, oils, sprays, and tinctures are readily available and allowed, smoking the raw flower is deemed unhealthy. This strange addition to the law is now headed to court under a constitutional challenge. It remains to be seen if it will stand.[6]

A more common restriction in Florida is that access to medical marijuana is only through state-approved channels, i.e., the mentioned Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. Patients are not allowed under the current laws to grow or process their own cannabis.

The Current Problems with Legal CBD Oil in Florida

As reported by CannabisNow, especially the most vulnerable population - senior citizens - still has significant problems accessing legal CBD oil and medical grade marijuana. [7]

It's likely not surprising to hear that 20 percent of Florida's population is over the age of 65. The exit polls from Amendment 2 indicated that 83 percent of seniors voted in favor of it. Unfortunately, many seniors in nursing homes are finding it difficult to obtain the medication. Why? Because assisted living facilities are enforcing federal regulations on medical cannabis, not the newly established state laws. Considering seniors suffer from many of the health issues which may benefit from legal CBD oil or marijuana, and that they overwhelming voted it in, it seems unfair for assisted living facilities to restrict access.

The Current Problems with Legal CBD Oil in Florida

Another hurdle, which is also headed to be challenged in court, is the extremely difficult road to entry for producers in the state. According to a recent filing by Patients and Producers Alliance, the state has implemented a crippling licensing system, which has essentially cut off access for smaller operations.

In their view, it’s unconstitutional and affects patients’ right to access. On top of this, it seems as if the state of Florida has ceased granting any additional permits. If what Patients and Producers say is true, many of the key permit holders are not even producing cannabis now, as they are trying to restrict access and inflate prices. [8]

RELATED: Is CBD Hemp Oil Legal in All 50 States?

At the End of the Day, Is CBD Legal in Florida?

The short answer is yes, Floridians have access to legal CBD oil, but it is not a simple process to obtain it. Patients and qualified physicians must follow a series of strict rules and regulations before either can gain access to the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, and patients can obtain a prescription. It takes one to two months for the entire process to complete, and in some cases, like those living in assisted living facilities, access could still be restricted. Also, there is a limited number of legal providers of medical CBD and related products. Clearly, there are still a few kinks left to be ironed out in Florida’s medical marijuana legislation.

Sources:

[1]  https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016)

[3]  http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-medical-marijuana-use/frequently-asked-questions/index.html

[4]  http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-medical-marijuana-use/_documents/completed-cme.pdf

[5]  http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-medical-marijuana-use/medical-marijuana-treatment-centers/index.html

[6]  https://www.thecannabist.co/2018/03/05/florida-medical-marijuana-smokable-ban-trial-date/100530/

[7]  https://cannabisnow.com/cannabis-nursing-homes-prohibited-federal-law/

[8]  http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/south-florida-medical-marijuana-advocates-sue-state-over-unconstitutional-rules-10151991

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