Medical marijuana was legalized in Florida in 2016 through an amendment that was passed through the ballot with a 71% vote. The medical marijuana program was approved on June 15th2017. This means that residents of Florida can now access medicinal cannabis products legally from dispensaries. However, medical marijuana is still highly regulated because marijuana remains a scheduled substance under federal law. For patients to have access to this form of treatment, they need to first obtain a medical marijuana card. This article outlines the steps required to obtain this card in the shortest time possible. If anything, when disease beckons you have no time to waste.
Here is it!
In Florida, you can access the medical marijuana program if you are a permanent or “seasonal” resident of the state. Seasonal residents have to meet the following criteria:
- Have a temporary residence within the state
- Live in the state for a consecutive 31 days each year
- Be a registered voter in the state
- Pay income tax to the state
You will also need to produce a Florida I.D. or a passport for identification.
If you qualify as a resident of Florida, you can apply for a medical marijuana card using the steps outlined below.
For starters, not any Tom, Dick, and Harry qualifies for medical marijuana in Florida. Apart from having a debilitating condition that qualifies for this type of treatment, you will need to be assessed by a medical doctor who will verify the condition and confirm that you have already been put on traditional treatments for the condition with no significant improvement. It sounds complicated but actually it is not. At the start. Healthcare providers were a bit skeptical about prescribing medical marijuana to patients, even when they qualified.
As increasingly more healthcare providers are becoming acquainted with this form of treatment the process of obtaining a medical marijuana card is becoming easier. Currently, there are thousands of patients who have been approved for this form of treatment in Florida. Countless more are hoping to get on board.
Earlier on, patients were only allowed access to non- smokable forms of medical marijuana. This includes capsules, tinctures, and topical products. As of March 2019, smokable forms of marijuana were allowed in the Sunshine State. Patients can now access a wide range of products from a licensed medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) within the state of Florida. There are over 140 operating MMTCs in the state. Most of these facilities offer cannabis delivery services to patients. Medical marijuana patients in Florida are not allowed to grow their own marijuana at home.
1. Book an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor in Florida
If you think that you qualify for this type of treatment the first thing to do is to consult with a doctor. The doctor that you consult has to be registered to practice within the state. You can confirm if your doctor is registered by checking on the Florida Department of Health website.
Once you have found a licensed doctor who is registered and booked an appointment you should find your previous medical records that outline the treatment that you have been receiving. Carry these records to your appointment to help the medical marijuana doctor make an informed decision about the treatment that you need.
Some medical marijuana doctors will require you to first make an online pre-qualification application. This allows the doctor to go through your records and inform you whether you might qualify for this treatment.
2. Face to Face Visit with the Medical Marijuana Doctor
The next step is to go for the physical visit to the doctor’s office. The doctor will examine you and go through your medical records to assess if you qualify for medical marijuana treatment. The list for qualifying conditions include the following:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS / Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV / AIDS
- Chronic muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Amendment 2 expanded the list for qualifying conditions in Florida to include the following conditions:
- Back Pain
- Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
- Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (with chronic abdominal pain)
- Lyme Disease
- Muscle Spasms
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Severe & Chronic Pain
- Severe Nausea
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Any Terminal Condition
This means that residents of Florida can access medical marijuana for a broad range of conditions.
Once the doctor determines that you meet the criteria, they will enter your information in the medical marijuana registry (compassionate care registry). This includes your name, address, ZIP code, and the condition that you are suffering from. Once your name is in the registry you can apply for a medical marijuana card.
The application is done online after the doctor has entered you in the compassionate care registry.
3. Make an online application for a medical marijuana card
This process is now fairly streamlined, though it may take up to three weeks in some instances. The state Department of Health has to authorize and activate your application. Be prepared to wait for 2- 3 weeks before you get the green light. You will be required to pay a non-refundable $75 dollars for the application. You will also be required to submit passport size colored photographs together with the application.
If approved, you will receive an email notification letting you know the same. You can use this notification to order medical marijuana from a dispensary as you wait for your medical marijuana card. The physical card can take up to 2-3 months before it arrives in your mail.
Once issued, the medical marijuana card is valid for 12 months.
The medical marijuana card is renewed on a yearly basis in Florida. A payment of $75 has to accompany the renewal application. It is advisable to apply for a renewal 45 days before the card expires.
This is how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida in the shortest time possible.