CBD Oil in Florida:
Legality & How to buy it?
CBD oil is still a legal gray area in Florida. To know more about trying CBD oil to ensure a healthier body and mind, read on.
Florida has, in the past, been one of the strictest states to enforce laws against hemp and marijuana– both sources of CBD oil.
But with the nationwide changes in laws and regulations and the perception about CBD oil across the US, it was only natural that Florida too would see a change in the acceptance level of cannabis products, legally too.
So much so, Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2019 signed legislation legalizing smoking medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.
The situation is soon expected to improve for the cannabis growers, sellers and the people who wish to use cannabis products for medicinal purposes or as a supplement.
It is also going to see a change in the scenario for doctors who would like to complement their treatment with CBD oil. But, how these changes will come into effect and how these changes will affect these people are still a little hazy.
Who is “qualified”
to use CBD Oil in Florida?
By now, a question may be cropping up in your mind. “How do I know if I am a “qualified patient” to gain access to medicinal marijuana in Florida?” Here’s your answer.
Under Senate Bill 1030 of 2014, a “qualified patient” is defined as “a resident of this state who has been added to the compassionate use registry by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 to receive low-THC cannabis from a dispensing organization”.
As a legal resident of Florida, if you are suffering from any one of the conditions mentioned below, you certainly qualify for legally purchasing marijuana-based CBD oil.
You can consult a physician and, with his approval, apply for a medical marijuana card to get access to high-quality, marijuana-derived CBD oil.
The health conditions that can “qualify” you as a legal recipient of a medical marijuana card are:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the “same kind or class as or comparable to those above”
- Terminal illness (diagnosed by a physician other than the one issuing the MMJ certification)
- Chronic nonmalignant pain (caused by one of the above qualifying medical conditions)
Do Florida doctors have restrictions too?
Yes, they do. If a doctor in Florida wants to prescribe medical marijuana to his patients, he must first undergo a training course and enroll with the state Department of Health, specifying his interest in cannabis-based treatment.
Furthermore, in order to remain eligible to recommend medical marijuana in Florida, he must retake the training course every time he renews his license.
How to Get
CBD oil in Florida?
There are basically two ways of procuring CBD oil in Florida.
If you want the low/high-THC marijuana-based CBD oil or cannabis oil having a high concentration of CBD with THC in it, you will be required to apply for a medical marijuana card.
The process is quite simple. If you are a legal resident of Florida and are suffering from any of the disorders or physical conditions mentioned above, then all you have to do is get an in-person approval from your physician and apply.
However, if you don’t technically qualify for a medical marijuana card but you still think it may help you with your condition, there is still a way!
You can purchase hemp-based CBD oil anywhere from the government-licensed dispensaries or order online from the list of reputed brands mentioned in this article.
There’s a good chance that even without the THC, a full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD oil can have as much benefit on your treatment as the medical marijuana variant, sans the “high”.
Where to Buy CBD oil
Florida has one of the rapidly-growing CBD oil markets in the country, with stores sprouting across the state.
Suburbs of Florida where you can have access to CBD oil
- Winter Park
They sell CBD oil extracts in different forms. The most common forms are:
- Vaporizers & Tinctures
- Edibles (capsules & additives)
There are quite a number of popular stores in the Sunshine State that sell CBD in different forms.
However, it is not advisable to buy them locally without a fair idea about their safety. You should opt to buy legal CBD products in one of the state’s licensed marijuana dispensaries.
Alternatively, you can search online for some of the most reputed brands and order.
Here are a few vetted brands:
Is CBD Oil Legal
Although CBD oil derived from hemp is legally within everyone’s reach in Florida, along with the rest of the country, marijuana-based CBD oil is not available to Floridians without a medical marijuana card.
If you are a “qualified patient”, you can get your doctor’s approval for the card and will have access to not only marijuana-derived CBD oil, but to smokable marijuana as well.
Legal Issues and Timeline in Florida
A number of attempts were made across the country to legalize medical marijuana between 1978 and 2014, but with no success.
But recently, Florida, besides the rest of the US, saw some very prominent changes in the legal scenario of CBD oil.
2018 saw a lot of progress on the lines of rising administrative acceptance of CBD, but CBD oil still remains a legal gray area as of 2019.
Let us take a quick look at the recent legal changes (1)…
- 2014: Former President Barrack Obama legalized the Federal Farm Bill that allows growing of hemp that has over 2,000 uses, ranging from medicinal to industrial.
- 2014: Florida passed its own version of the hemp act, the “Charlotte’s Web” bill, a measure that allowed the use of low-THC, high-CBD extracts for the purpose of treating a short list of serious conditions. Farmers could grow hemp and scientists could research CBD’s benefits. The Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 1030 that created a registry ID card system for patients with cancer, seizure disorders, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, epilepsy and terminal illnesses. This legislation allowed the people of Florida possession and use of only those cannabis products that are rich in CBD and low in THC. The law also created a licensing system for dispensing organizations to produce medicines with at least 10% CBD and no more than 0.8% THC.
- Early 2016: The state granted licenses to six dispensing organizations and the legislature also passed HB 307. This new law expanded the program to terminally ill patients and allowed the dispensing organizations to produce CBD oil with even high-THC levels. However, the first dispensary of low-THC cannabis didn’t open until July of 2016.
- November 8, 2016: Florida voted for an amendment that legalized medicinal marijuana in the state. The constitutional amendment now gives patients suffering from a list of serious medical conditions access to medical marijuana, including both high-THC cannabis oil and low-THC CBD-oil. Amendment 2 was passed by a margin of 71 percent, superseding an older law that permitted only use of low-THC CBD oil and allowed its use for only treating some potentially life-threatening diseases. This means the administration removed the THC-cap on CBD oil.
- Later in 2016: In a special session, the senate passed SB8A bill that created strict regulations that applied to Amendment 2, such as making it illegal to purchase dried flower and to grow cannabis at home.
- 2017: The Florida Legislature passed a law, preventing patients from using smokable marijuana. Two more bills were introduced to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. But, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee “temporarily postponed” review of the bills.
- 2018: The 2018 Farm Bill made zero-THC CBD legal in all 50 states of the US. President Trump passed the 2018 Farm Bill (legally known as Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018), removing hemp as a Schedule I substance and reclassified it as an “agricultural commodity”. It promises to clear up many misconceptions and confusions surrounding CBD oil. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill also removed restrictions on the sale, transportation, and possession of hemp-derived CBD products and allowed for their transportation across state lines as long as the products follow certain regulations.
- Spring of 2018: Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers heard a case brought by two NGOs on behalf of two separate medical patients that challenged the legislature’s attempt to restrict patients’ options and prohibit them from using dried cannabis flower. Judge Grievers ruled that patients “have the right to use the [smokable] form of medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating medical conditions as recommended by their certified physicians.” Although the Department of Health appealed the decision, Judge Gievers ruled that, under the state’s constitution, patients have the right to smoke medical marijuana “in private”.
- 2019: It is still not legal to possess marijuana products without a medical card in Florida. Note, that this is medicinal marijuana and NOT hemp-based CBD oil, which has THC levels as low as 0.3%. No medical card is required to buy hemp-based CBD in any state.
- In Florida, the penalty for possession of marijuana products of over 20 gm at a time is a felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years along with a fine of up to $5,000. Below that amount is a misdemeanor that draws a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000.Other recreational weed laws and penalties also remained intact in this state.
- March 18, 2019: Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation legalizing smoking medical marijuana in the state. The bill,co-sponsored by Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes and Democrat Linda Stewart, permits patients 18 years and above to have 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower every 35 days. In case of patients under the age of 18, they too can have access to smokable medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a second opinion from a pediatrician. The bill also states that patients will have to sign an “informed consent form”, acknowledging the health risks of smoking marijuana. (2)
Smokable whole flower marijuana – A BIG STEP FOR FLORIDA
Under the Senate Bill 182 that was signed into law on March 18, 2019, amends the country’s medical marijuana program on several counts.
Patients must visit their consulting Med Card doctor to get smokable flower added to their recommendation. Doctors may refuse to recommend it the smokable forms of medicinal marijuana depending on your specific health condition.
Senate Bill 182 was significant due to the following points:
- It repeals the prohibition on dispensaries selling cannabis flower by redefining the term “medical use”.
- The Florida DOH requires patients to see a doctor in-person to gain access to smokable marijuana.
- The consulting physician must report the other forms of cannabis the patient may have used.
- Patients can’t submit a change order request on their own accord neither can they simply call the doctor over the phone to get a recommendation for smokable medicinal marijuana.
- The new bill requires physicians to write a new order every 35 days.
- It also requires the Board of Medicine to create practice standards.
- No patients below the age of 18 will be allowed access to smokable cannabis bud unless they are terminally ill and have a pediatrician who agrees to its smoking as an effective treatment.
- The bill limits the quantity of flower a patient can buy every 35 days to 2.5 ounces.
- The total quantity of flower buds a qualified patient can possess is only up to 4 ounces. Beyond that will be punishable by law.
- Prohibits patients from using tobacco or hemp papers in pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes.
If you have read so far, you may have several questions regarding low-THC, high THC CBD oils, medicinal marijuana, and medicinal marijuana access. To clear the air, we have explained it all here:
Low-THC CBD vs Hemp CBD oil
Back in September 2018, scientists at the University of Florida started a UF pilot project to explore the opportunities of cultivating hemp in Florida. A Florida-based CBD-products company, Green Roads Inc, has reportedly invested $1.3 million to sponsor the first phase of the research program.
Now, the question is: Which form of CBD is beneficial for treating your condition? Is it the hemp-based CBD oil that has negligible THC and is legal in Florida anyway? Or the low-THC grade CBD oil that, though is legal, requires a certain pre-qualification and a medical marijuana card from the state?
Many medical marijuana scientists believe that only a full-spectrum CBD oil (not the chemically-tinkered pure version or the hemp-based CBD oil that has 0.3% THC)contains sufficient medicinal cannabinoids to effectively treat most conditions or disorders.
In fact, it is also claimed by some experts that THC’s presence can actually provide an added benefit in some cases. Some even claim that CBD oil is almost ineffective in treating several conditions like chronic pain and cancer without its presence.
While the debate continues, the bottom line still remains that a lot of people DO get relief by using the pure version for conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and pain. The only way to know for sure if the hemp-derived CBD oil works for you is to try them out first. If it doesn’t, then your doctor will have no problem in recommending you for medical marijuana card in Florida.
A word of caution: If you have a “qualifying” condition for a medical marijuana card, definitely you can legally buy high-THC oils in Florida. But the 5% THC level found in these oils is far higher than what is naturally found in cannabis. And given THC’s reputation of having a hallucinatory effect on humans, it is advisable to take it with caution.
Hemp-based CBD is Legal in Florida & 49 other states
Based on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) guidance, CBD is a Schedule I substance and is still illegal in certain states. But, as long as the CBD oil extraction adheres to certain regulations set by the new farm bill, the finished product will NO LONGER be considered a Schedule I substance. It will be completely legal across all 50 states.
These regulations are:
- The CBD must be derived from hemp
- The hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC
- The hemp must adhere to the shared state-federal regulations
- The hemp must be grown by a properly licensed grower
Final Thoughts: CBD Oil in Florida
With the authorities loosening its noose over the cultivation, selling and use of CBD oil in all its variations, there is much hope for people who want to make a living out of it or gain access to some good “natural” treatment.
Given the fact that pharmaceutical drugs produce an array of undesirable effects on the body, people’s interest in cannabis has piqued considerably over the years.
The hemp industry, on its part, is also taking the targeted initiative to push companies for voluntary testing and other self-regulatory measures to provide some sort of reassurance about the quality of products and their legality to the consumers.
Two industry groups—the Hemp Roundtable and the Hemp Industries Association— have recently started offering certified seals to companies that meet the specific quality standards, including how they are cultivated, processed into finished products, and tested. As of April 2019, 13 CBD companies have received the Hemp Authority designation (3)
So, if you want what’s best for you and your family, you will keep in mind that trying something new may be exciting or even beneficial for the moment, but there are always consequences.
Before you think of using CBD oil in any form, even if it is the hemp-based variant, consult your physician. Since he has a good idea about your medical history he will be a better judge of your tolerance towards any drug and its benefits on your health. And don’t forget to look for the Hemp Authority Certification. You can never be too safe!
- Americans for Safe Access; Advancing Legal Medical Marijuana Therapeutics and Research; https://www.safeaccessnow.org/florida_legal_information
- Florida Makes It Legal to Smoke Medical Marijuanahttps://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/florida-medical-marijuana-legal-smoke-810955/
CBD May Be Legal, But Is It Safe? Consumer Reports; https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/cbd-may-be-legal-but-is-it-safe/