Florida’s medical marijuana program is easily the most complex practice of medicine in America today. We’ve distilled the most commonly asked questions (and their answers) below. Simply click a question to expand and see the answer.
General Program Information
Yes, for medical use by patients with debilitating and chronic illnesses.
In 2014, the Florida legislature passed the “Compassionate Use Act”, establishing what would become the Office of Medical Marijuana Use and allowing for the physician qualification of Low-THC cannabis to persons suffering from epilepsy. This law was expanded in 2016 when Governor Rick Scott signed the “Right To Try” act which allowed for the qualification and dispensement of High-THC cannabis to persons suffering from a terminal illness.
On November 8, 2016, by a 71.3 Percent majority, Florida voters approved Amendment 2. Enacted officially on January 3, 2017, this ballot amendment expanded the heavily restricted medical marijuana program statewide to a wide variety of illnesses and conditions.
The first step in the process is to see a Qualifying Physician*. You’ll need to complete a series of forms establishing your health history, sign a state mandated Informed Consent form, and see the doctor for an in-person, face-to-face examination within the same room (telehealth is strictly prohibited in Florida).
After this examination, the physician will enter your information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. You will then receive two emails at your primary email address – one will contain your username (which will be your email address), and the other will contain a temporary password you’ll use the first time you login to the Registry.
The first time you login, you’ll be prompted to change your password. After that, you can complete the Patient application online, upload the required documentation (proof of residency and a passport-style photo). If your address as entered into the Registry by the Qualifying Physician matches the address on your Florida drivers license, your photo will be automatically pulled from the Motor Vehicle Picture Database so you won’t have to upload a picture.
You then have to pay the annual $75 fee directly to the State of Florida. You can do so directly online using your Visa, Mastercard, or Bank information. Alternatively, you can fill out a paper application and submit it via mail to the state, though processing times are much shorter with the online application.
Within 7-21 days of submitting your completed application and payment, you will then receive a Temporary Verification email, which serves as notice of your legal patient status. Within 2 weeks of approval, you’ll receive a card in the mail that you should keep in your wallet next to your drivers license.
Once approved, you can visit any of the states dispensaries or call them for delivery.
*Any doctor in Florida (licensed as an M.D. or D.O.) can qualify patients within the state’s system, however they must take a Department of Health approved 2-Hour course and pass the subsequent test.
Florida’s enumerated diagnoses include: Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or Terminal Conditions.
Additionally, medical conditions of the same kind or class or as comparable to any of the conditions above are permitted. This language is taken nearly verbatim from California’s groundbreaking 1996 law that became the first medical legalization of cannabis in the United States.
Chronic nonmalignant pain is a Qualifying Condition, but the law states this pain must be caused by another Qualifying Condition.
The state’s medical marijuana program is open to permanent residents and part time residents, provided you live within the state for a minimum of 31 consecutive days per calendar year. Canadians and other foreign nationals are permitted within the program, provided they can meet the state’s part time residency requirements.
s. 381.986, Florida Statutes, requires patients be seen by their physician for an in-person, face-to-face examination at least once each 30 weeks (7 months).
Once your Qualifying Physician enters your information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, he or she must “Certify” you within the Registry. Your Qualifying Condition must be provided, as well as the length the Certification is valid (up to 210 days). The physician must then enter “Orders” into the Registry, which require a maximum milligram dose per day and route of delivery (Oral, Inhalation, Suppository, Topical). These orders are valid for 70 days, and the Qualifying Physician may enter up to 3-70 day orders per Certification.
When your patient application has been approved and your Qualifying Physician has entered a Certification and Orders, you can then go to any of the state’s operating dispensaries or call an MMTC to arrange for delivery. In some cases, online ordering is available.
In Florida, we currently have a “vertical” system – meaning a company obtains one state license that allows them to cultivate, process, dispense, and transport cannabis. These companies are called Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (or MMTC’s) by law.
Under the law, individuals suffering from a Qualifying Condition that are unable to care for themselves are allowed to elect a Caregiver to make decisions and purchases for them under the Medical Marijuana system. To become a Caregiver, you must be 21 years of age or older, agree in writing to assist with the Qualified Patient’s medical use of marijuana (such as a Healthcare Surrogacy form), must apply for a Caregiver License ($75 per year) in addition to the Patient’s License. Also, a caregiver certification course provided by the Department of Health must be completed. A background screening is also required, unless the Caregiver is a Close relative of the patient (a close relative is defined as a mother, father, brother, sister, or grandparent).
Florida has become the home to the fastest growing medical marijuana program in the United States. While smoking cannabis is currently prohibited for legal patients, a wide variety of products are available. Cannabis oils, tinctures, extracts, concentrates, suppositories, vape devices and some whole-flower products are currently available for purchase by legal patients.
Low-THC medications can be consumed virtually anywhere without restriction. Any High-THC (or “medical cannabis”) medication cannot be consumed in plain sight of the public (outside spaces), nor can High-THC medication be consumed in/on automobiles, boats, airplanes, or state prisons. If you are medicating with medical cannabis, it is advised you do so privately (within your home) and that you do not consume prior to having to operate heavy machinery or an automobile.
Low-THC products are defined as having a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content of less than 3 Percent. High-THC (or medical cannabis) products are defined as having a THC content of greater than 3 Percent.
Low-THC products are particularly useful in treating all types of inflammation as well as seizure disorders. Low-THC products also cause no psychoactive effect in the patient (the “high” feeling). Additionally Low-THC products generally contain high concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol), which actually can reduce the intoxicating feelings caused by THC.
The use of high-THC products can be especially useful in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, appetite stimulation, and pain relief.
CBD sales nationwide have proliferated over the course of the past few years. It seems these products are available almost anywhere – from vitamin shops to vape stores to gas stations. While hemp derived extracts recently became legal nationwide with the signature of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA released a statement within hours stating that although CBD products were no longer “controlled substances”, any product sold must now undergo the stringent FDA drug approval process. Effectively CBD products available over the counter are illegal to buy, sell, possess, or use.
Additionally, products currently sold outside of the legal state system are marketed as “vitamin supplements”, which means they have no standard of quality or purity.
Each legal product sold in Florida to patients must be free of impurities, pesticides, fillers, or toxins and must be double lab tested to ensure safety.
We recommend patients wishing to utilize CBD products obtain legal certifications and purchase legal products directly from the MMTC’s rather than purchasing products of unknown origin from a store shelf.
Good practices for patients include: learning and abiding by the current law, keeping your medication locked up (or out of reach of others) when not medicating, keeping your Temporary Verification or License card on you at all times, and traveling with the Recommendation Receipts (given to you at the time of purchase by the MMTC dispensing your medication) whenever you have your medicine with you in a vehicle. Ensuring you keep and attend your scheduled Qualifying Physician appointments is extremely important, as your license (issued by the state) and certification/orders (issued by your physician) are separately required.
No. Since cannabis is still prohibited as a Schedule I controlled substance at the Federal level, your legal protection extends only to the geographical boundaries of the state of Florida. Additionally, since air travel is regulated by the Federal government, you cannot use or possess cannabis products at airports or on airplanes – even when traveling within Florida.
No. Florida has specific requirements that are unique to its program. Just because you’ve qualified under another state’s laws doesn’t necessarily mean you will qualify under Florida’s. You will have to see a Florida licensed Qualifying Physician for an in-person, face-to-face examination and follow the steps required to obtain legal patient status.
It depends. Nevada will honor (or give reciprocity to) legal Florida patients who show their licenses at the state’s dispensaries. Other states (like Michigan) require the patient’s home state give reciprocity to Michigan patients (Florida doesn’t). The best course of action is – while planning your trip – contact the state that you’re traveling to and inquire as to that particular state’s policy.
No. Florida’s medical marijuana program and the concealed carry program are administered as state departments. The state constitution prohibits civil or criminal prosecution for legal patients. Florida’s new Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, has stated publicly that she has both a Medical Cannabis Patient Card and a Concealed Carry Permit and that legal patients would not be disqualified from having their CCW.
Yes. There are no legal disqualifications for prior convicted felons or persons currently under the supervision of the Department of Parole or on probation. It is recommended, however, you speak with your probation or parole officer prior to entering the medical cannabis program in case they have any objections.
Yes. Pregnant women are allowed to become legal patients. However, any woman in any stage of pregnancy is prohibited from using (or being ordered) High-THC cannabis products.
Yes. The law, however, requires a second physician to review the chart of a minor patient and attest that – in their professional opinion – the benefits of cannabis outweigh the risks for the patient. We recommend that you have your child’s current primary care physician or pediatrician complete this requirement and we even have a standard form for you to give your child’s practitioner to complete this step.
Additionally, we do have other physicians who will review cases and provide the required documentation. This service costs an additional $75.
The CDC recommends “Clinicians should not test for substances for which results would not affect patient management or for which implications for patient management are unclear. For example, experts noted that there might be uncertainty about the clinical implications of a positive urine drug test for tetrahydrocannabinol.”
There is no current law, statewide or Federal, that restricts the use of both opioids and cannabis. Since both substances affect different receptors within the brain, opioid drugs are the only class of pharmaceuticals with no known interaction with cannabis.
Pain management practices have different policies and rules, and it’s ultimately the physician who decides whether a patient can continue to participate in the pain management program or not. Should your pain clinician uncompassionately decide to eject you from their care, we have a list of other pain clinicians who openly accept medical cannabis patients and will not discharge patients due to THC-positive urine tests.
Unfortunately the current Florida law offers no protection for employees. It is advised you speak with your employer prior to obtaining medicine, as High-THC products will likely cause you to fail a standard drug test.
Unfortunately, no. Because cannabis is still Federally prohibited as a Schedule I controlled substance, everything from visits with your Qualifying Physician to purchasing medication must be self pay.
No. Since we are not an insurance based practice, no referral is necessary to schedule an appointment with us.
Each certification visit (required to establish yourself within the program with our physicians and then each 30-weeks thereafter) costs $199. Cash, all major credit cards, and healthcare savings account cards (with the Visa or Mastercard logo) are accepted.
No. Appointments must be scheduled in advance.
You can call our office Monday thru Friday from 9a – 5p (we’re closed between Noon and 1p for lunch) at 941-888-0723 to schedule by phone. You can also visit our Scheduling Page to choose a date and time convenient for you.
The Department of Health has made it quite simple for patients to switch Qualifying Physicians. If you are currently with another doctor, you should call their office and ask to be deactivated from the Medical Marijuana Use Registry prior to your scheduled appointment with us. Please note that the law specifically requires Qualifying Physicians to deactivate patients upon request without charge. Should you have an issue with your old doctor refusing to comply, you are urged to file an MQA complaint against them.
Conversely, you can log into your existing account within the Medical Marijuana Use Registry and deactivate yourself.
For any appointment to our clinic, you should have your required paperwork completed prior to your scheduled day and time. If you have completed your paperwork in advance, please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment. We pride ourselves on efficiency and try and ensure everyone is actually seen as close to their scheduled time as possible. If you’ve not completed your paperwork in advance, please arrive 45 minutes early to complete it within our office. If you are late to an appointment or do not have your paperwork completed by your scheduled time, you may have to be rescheduled.
Additionally, Florida healthcare law requires we verify the identity of patients prior to them being seen so ensure you bring a government issued ID to your appointment.
Lastly, you’ll need to bring payment. Cash, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express cards are accepted. Unfortunately we do not accept personal checks.
The law requires Qualifying Physicians complete a “full review of the patient’s medical history”. Nothing within the statute requires medical records be received or reviewed by the Qualifying Physician prior to issuing a Certification within the MMUR.
That said, comprehensive information is the best protection for both the patient and the Qualifying Physician. While the lengthy intake forms we require will establish sufficient medical history, our forms packets include medical records releases for you to sign. The best option is to complete the medical records form with the name and fax information for your primary care physician, as they will have more complete health records, including your diagnoses. We will fax the records request off to your practitioner and then attach records we receive to your chart within our office.
Please don’t bring printed records, lab results, or imaging CD’s/images with you to your appointment. We will be able to obtain the information we need from your provider.
You’ll need to return to our clinic at least once each 30 weeks (7 months). During your initial appointment, we will schedule your follow up visit approximately 6 months after we first see you. We schedule follow up appointments in 6 month increments (rather than a full seven months) to ensure you always remain in compliance.
Follow up visits (which we schedule each 6 months) are $199 each and are payable using all cash and major credit cards.
Yes. Each new patient is required to pay a non-refundable $25 deposit for their initial certification visit. This deposit is necessary to ensure you arrive on the date and time of your scheduled appointment. The $25 paid as a deposit will be applied to your balance the day of your scheduled appointment, so $174 will be due before you see the doctor. Deposits are not required for Follow Up Visits.
Payment for services is due prior to them being rendered. If you arrive for your appointment and do not have full payment, you will be rescheduled for another date.
We do not offer refunds for services rendered.
Florida law prohibits many discounts of medical services, so we currently do not offer discounts for services.
Keeping scheduled appointments is a vital requirement mandated by state law. While we understand issues arise that may cause you to have to cancel or change your scheduled appointments, please contact our office at (941) 888-0723 as soon as you know you will not be able to keep your appointment. If you do not notify us within 48 hours of your intent to cancel your appointment, you may be charged the remainder of your balance ($174) according to our clinical policies. For returning patients, failure to notify our office of your cancellation will result in the cancellation of orders within the Medical Marijuana Use Registry and may result in your being discharged from our care.
No. Florida healthcare law requires different standards of care for different classes of prescription medication. As such, our physicians will not write patients prescriptions for any other medications. Should you require refills of current prescriptions or need additional prescriptions written, you must contact the ordering physician or visit an Urgent Care center or Emergency Room.
No. We do not offer primary care services. We are solely a medical marijuana recommendation center. Should you need a primary care physician our office may be able to provide a recommendation.