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Florida Cannabis

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Expert Advisors to Florida Cannabis Businesses

Florida’s laws and regulations governing cannabis use have evolved quickly in recent years. Recreational use remains illegal, but many municipalities have moved to reduce the legal consequences of using or possessing small amounts of cannabis. Meanwhile, the state has implemented a medical cannabis program and liberalized its approach to hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis law and policy in Florida.

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Local and State Cannabis Laws in Florida

Florida still criminalizes any possession, use or sale of cannabis for recreational purposes. Possession of fewer than 20 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Even giving someone a small amount of cannabis and receiving nothing in return is a misdemeanor that could be punished with jail time.

The penalties become increasingly severe for people convicted of selling cannabis or of possessing larger amounts. For example:

  • Selling cannabis (outside of the state’s medical cannabis program) is a felony that could lead to a five-year prison sentence.
  • Selling, possessing or delivering cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, a park, or certain other areas is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • Possession of more than 20 grams is a felony that can be punished with a five-year prison sentence. Possession of any amount within 1,000 feet of a park, school or other specified area is also a felony.

Municipalities across Florida have moved in recent years to reduce the legal consequences of minor cannabis offenses. Tampa, Fernandina Beach, Miami Beach, Hallandale Beach and Miami-Dade County, among other locations, now punish certain cannabis offenses with citations and fines instead of criminal charges and possible jail sentences. This approach only applies to small amounts of cannabis — the consequences are more serious for larger amounts and repeat offenses.

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Florida’s Medical Cannabis Program

Florida created a medical cannabis program in 2014 and significantly expanded it in 2016. Both permanent and seasonal residents are eligible for the program.

To legally purchase and use medical cannabis, patients must be added to the state’s registry by a qualified physician. Conditions that qualify a patient for a medical cannabis card include cancer, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among numerous others.

Under Florida law, only licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) are allowed to dispense medical cannabis. MMTCs must receive authorization from the state to:

  • Cultivate cannabis plants.
  • Process those plants into medical cannabis products
  • Sell those products to patients and caregivers
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Hemp and CBD in Florida

Hemp, once outlawed because it is derived from the same plant as cannabis, is now an important crop in Florida and across the country. To cultivate hemp, you must apply for a license, a process that includes a background check.

Florida regulates hemp and CBD less strictly because they contain less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant. Producers and consumers of hemp and CBD products must be mindful of THC levels. Florida and the federal government treat anything with more than 0.3% THC as illegal marijuana.

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Harris Bricken has been a leader in cannabis law and policy for more than a decade. We make it our business to stay on top of the changing legal landscape in Florida and across the country. To learn more, please visit our Canna Law Blog.

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