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Cannabis in Florida: Laws, Uses, and History

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Medical cannabis is legal in Florida, but recreational cannabis is not. Several representatives have tried to pass bills to legalize cannabis use, but have so far encountered opposition. Thus, the penalties for possession or sale of the substance remain severe, with jail terms even for less serious crimes.

Index

  1. Cannabis laws in Florida
  2. Can you possess and use cannabis in Florida?
  3. Can you sell cannabis in Florida?
  4. Can you grow cannabis in Florida?
  5. Is CBD legal in Florida?
  6. Can cannabis seeds be shipped to Florida?
  7. Medical cannabis in Florida
  8. Getting medical cannabis in Florida
  9. Requirements to meet for an identification card
  10. Approved diseases
  11. Industrial hemp in Florida
  12. Good to know
  13. History of cannabis
  14. Attitudes towards cannabis
  15. Will it be legalized in the future?
1) Cannabis laws in Florida

The USA is governed by federal and state laws. This article deals with the cannabis laws in the state of Florida. To learn about US federal laws, visit this page.

2) Can you possess and use cannabis in Florida?

Currently, it is illegal to possess and use cannabis in Florida. If caught in possession of 20 grams or less, the detainee can be sentenced to a jail term of up to one year and / or a fine of $ 1,000. If the amount of cannabis exceeds 20 grams, the offense becomes a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, and the prison sentence increases to up to five years (with a possible fine of $ 5,000).

However, attempts are being made to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, as is the case in other US states. In 2019, state representatives Carlos Guillermo Smith and Michael Grieco presented a bill to legalize the substance. The proposal was not up for debate or a vote. His bill proposed allowing adults 21 and older to "consume, possess and transport" up to 2.5 ounces (about 71 grams) of cannabis and grow up to six plants.

In the way of legalizing recreational cannabis, a major obstacle stands in the way: restricting citizen campaigns. Driven by Republican representatives, the bill limits the impact that citizen requests can have on constitutional amendments. Considering that four of the amendments involve changes to the current cannabis law, this is likely to be a major problem in the future.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed this controversial bill in June 2019, which took effect immediately. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has referred to the move as an "arrogant abuse of political power."

3) Can you sell cannabis in Florida?

Selling cannabis is also illegal in Florida. If the detainee has been caught trying to sell 20 grams or less, then the maximum jail sentence is one year, with a fine of $ 1,000. Selling 25 lbs. Or less is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison, plus a $ 5,000 fine. Any amount greater than 25 pounds (about 708 g) but less than 2,000 pounds (about 57 kilos) is punishable by a prison term of three to 15 years and a fine of $ 25,000.

If the laws change after the 2020 general election, the sale of cannabis may be legalized. Regulate Florida demands not only the legalization of recreational cannabis but also the creation of a regulated industry that allows the plant to be sold to the general public.

4) Can you grow cannabis in Florida?

It is illegal to grow cannabis in Florida. If caught growing fewer than 25 plants, the maximum prison sentence is five years (with a $ 5,000 fine). From 25 to 300 plants, the penalty is increased to a maximum of 15 years and a fine of $ 10,000; and if the number of plants is between 300 and 2,000, it changes again, from three to 15 years in prison, in addition to a fine of $ 25,000.

If the defendant is caught growing 2,000 to 10,000 plants, then the prison term is seven to 30 years, along with a $ 50,000 fine. Any cultivation within 1,000 feet (about 300 meters) of an educational establishment, park, or other specified areas can result in a 15-year prison term and a $ 10,000 fine.

Legislation may change in the future, allowing Florida citizens to grow a limited number of plants for personal use only, in their homes. However, to date, the situation is up in the air.

5) Is CBD legal in Florida?

Since Congress removed hemp from its list of illegal drugs, the use, purchase, and sale of CBD have been technically legal in Florida. It must come from a licensed grower and is not allowed to contain more than trace levels of THC (the substance responsible for providing a 'high' or psychoactive high).

In real terms, the law is much more complex. The official position of the Florida Department of Agriculture is that it is not legal to sell hemp or CBD, but Nikki Fried, the Commissioner of Agriculture, is currently trying to push legislation to bring state laws into compliance with federal laws.

Meanwhile, although the situation is ambiguous, authorities have been turning a blind eye to consumers who buy and use CBD. The few crackdowns that have been taken have targeted CBD retailers, not buyers.

6) Can cannabis seeds be shipped to Florida?

The cannabis seeds are legal in Florida and can be bought and sold freely. When it comes to mailing them to the state from another state, the law is a bit more ambiguous, and there has been some information about seeds being held up by customs.

7) Medical cannabis in Florida

Although medical cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it was legalized in Florida in 2016. It was originally approved by the Florida Senate in 2014, with a result of 36 votes in favor of three against; and it was launched to ensure that children with epilepsy have access to medical cannabis to treat their disease.

The Senate decision was based on the case of a young woman named Charlotte, who used CBD oil to treat her epilepsy. The bill was nicknamed " Charlotte's Web Bill " in honor of this girl and for the high-CBD cannabis strain ("Charlotte's Web") that had also been named after her.

8) Getting medical cannabis in Florida

To access medical cannabis, patients must

  • have a Medical Marijuana Use Registry identification card, which allows them to buy and possess medical cannabis.
  • have one of the required diseases.
  • be a permanent or temporary resident of the state.
  • agree to keep medical cannabis in Florida; it cannot be legally carried across the border.
  • agree to consume it in private; public consumption is prohibited.
  • Keep it out of the reach of children, if possible in a locked box.
9) Requirements to meet for an identification card

To be eligible for medical cannabis, the patient must first have a diagnosis from a specialist doctor. If the patient is under 18 years of age, a second physician must agree with the original diagnosis.

Once approved, the patient becomes part of the Medical Marijuana Use Registry (and their caregiver, if applicable). You can then apply for an ID card and obtain cannabis products at any approved Medical Marijuana Treatment Center. Another alternative is to receive the products at home.

10) Approved diseases

The following diseases and disorders have been approved for medical cannabis treatment in Florida:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Any condition that is comparable to those listed above
  • Any terminal illness
  • Non-malignant chronic pain
11) Industrial hemp in Florida

Industrial hemp was legalized at the federal level in 2018, under the Farm Bill. In 2019, the Florida Senate voted unanimously in favor of passing a bill, which establishes a framework for the regulation of hemp cultivation in the state.

If passed, the bill urges the Florida Department of Agriculture to begin drafting standards for the state's hemp industry, when it comes to safety, licensing, and quality control standards. An advisory council will also be created, providing training to local communities, and explaining how hemp differs from cannabis.

12) Good to know

If you are going to travel to Florida (or currently reside there), you may be interested in knowing the following:

Although authorities are taking a lax approach to CBD today, drastic measures have been taken on certain products. For example, in 2019, $ 33,000 worth of CBD edibles were seized, because they looked too much like the gummies kids often eat.
In 2019, the Florida Board of Medicine officially approved the prescription of smoked medical cannabis.
The famous OG Kush variety was first cultivated in Florida, after crossing a Californian variety with the Hindu Kush from Amsterdam.

13) History of cannabis

Cannabis took a long time to reach Florida. In other parts of the country, the popularity of the plant had grown significantly during the Prohibition period (the 1920s), but Florida took a little longer to fully join in.

However, in 1931, the Key West Citizen commented that: "The use of marijuana, a drug made from a Mexican plant, is rapidly spreading throughout the United States. And, the pity is that little has been legislated to avoid it ".

Back then in the US, some prominent public figures and businessmen were fomenting negativity towards the plant. Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the United States Bureau of Narcotics, launched a smear campaign, blaming cannabis for several violent crimes committed in the country. These cases of crimes committed under the influence of cannabis have been later denied by historians.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned the plant in Florida, along with the rest of the country. Although public perception was largely negative throughout the 1940s, by the 1950s and '60s, the hippy culture had taken hold, and cannabis was adopted by young hippie citizens of Florida.

Florida was an early adopter of cannabis. At the Miami Pop Festival (held a year before Woodstock), everyone smoked it, while they enjoyed performances by Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, and Jimi Hendrix.

In the late 1960s, Florida was known as the cannabis trafficking capital of the United States, with the substance regularly entering ports. Everything remained the same for the next decade, although in addition to earning a reputation for trafficking the substance, it was also known to be grown in the state.

Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs in the 1980s meant that Florida's cannabis fields were covered in chemicals as part of eradication efforts. Drug cartels weren't much concerned with selling cannabis covered in toxic substances, which made users sick. In 1988, the Miami Herald claimed that the plant was the second-largest crop in Florida, at about $ 400 million each year.

In the 1990s, attitudes changed once again. In 1991, Kenneth and Barbara Jenks were arrested for using cannabis to treat their AIDS symptoms. They appealed their conviction and were later acquitted. This and other similar cases eventually led to the legalization of medical cannabis, although it took more than 20 years to produce.

14) Attitudes towards cannabis

The legalization of medical cannabis demonstrates how attitudes toward the substance have changed in Florida. When the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was put to the vote, 71% of the state's citizens voted in favor, a sizable majority.

There remains some opposition to its use; in particular, from the Republican representatives. However, it appears that the public is largely open to the legalization of the substance.

15) Will it be legalized in the future?

Several attempts have been made to legalize recreational cannabis use in Florida. None have been successful so far, but experts suggest it is only a matter of time before the legislation is passed. 

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