By now you have probably heard of the health benefits of medical marijuana for veterans such as helping with the treatment of anxiety, and PTSD as well as other conditions like arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, anorexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (MS). You might have also heard about the use of marijuana for pain relief. But how much do you know about the legality of this substance and how do you go about getting your own Medical Marijuana Card (MMC) in Florida?
Legality for Veterans & family members in Florida
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published on their website the following list of things that the veteran community should know about the VA’s legal position as it pertains to medical marijuana for veterans:
- Veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use.
- Veterans are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.
- VA health care providers will record marijuana use in the Veteran’s VA medical record in order to have the information available in treatment planning. As with all clinical information, this is part of the confidential medical record and protected under patient privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
- VA clinicians may not recommend medical marijuana.
- VA clinicians may not prescribe products containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), or any other cannabinoids.
- VA clinicians may not complete paperwork/forms required for Veteran patients to participate in state-approved marijuana programs.
- VA pharmacies may not fill prescriptions for medical marijuana.
- VA will not pay for medical marijuana prescriptions from any source.
- The use or possession of marijuana is prohibited at all VA medical centers, locations and grounds. When you are on VA grounds it is federal law that is in force, not the laws of the state.
- Veterans who are VA employees are subject to drug testing under the terms of employment.
As legality varies state to state, please be sure to check your state’s laws on THC and medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is available in Florida, however, remains illegal under federal law.
In Florida, as the law currently stands, one may not grow or cultivate their own plants and must instead receive a physicians recommendation in order to be placed on the registry and receive a medical card. This recommendation and card allows you to legally purchase medical marijuana from state licensed dispensaries. You must be able to show proof of purchase and your medical card if asked by a law enforcement officer.
In 2017 legislature enacted a law prohibiting the possession, use, or administration of “marijuana in a form for smoking.” This was later undone by a lower court who, claiming it to be unconstitutional, stated that the use of “smokable marijuana in private places” is permissible. The state is appealing this ruling currently.
If caught with marijuana and you do not have an MMC or you cannot provide proof of purchase from a state licensed dispensary in Florida you can be charged with possession. If caught holding 20 grams or less it can be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Please consult a qualified physician prior to making any decisions about using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
How to get a Florida MMC:
In Florida it is actually pretty easy to receive your MMC. First, you should gather paperwork such as proper identification (legal passport, drivers license, etc.), proof of Florida residence, and medical history (in order to show proof that other methods of treatment have been tried prior). Next you visit a licensed physician (a list of which can be found on the Florida health website (source 3). Next during this visit the physician will examine you and either recommend the use of marijuana or not based on the specified conditions such as anxiety, and PTSD as well as other conditions like arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, anorexia, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (MS). The use of marijuana for pain relief is also accepted, if said pain is chronic and caused by or originates from a qualifying disease.
If you are given the recommendation to use marijuana, you must then submit an application with a 75 dollar fee to be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry or (MMUR) in order to receive an MMC. With this card you can visit any of the state licensed dispensaries which can be found on the Florida health website under dispensing organizations. (Source 4) Since a physician cannot prescribe any certain amount of marijuana, the use of marijuana for PTSD, anxiety, pain relief, and more is still considered to be a form of self-medication.
As part of the veteran’s community, we here at the U.S. & Latin Veteran Support Embassy can and look forward to answering any questions you may have about medical marijuana for veterans. We can work with you to possibly provide financial assistance to veterans and their family members.
In the upcoming months as we continue to work closely with the veteran’s community, please keep a look out on our social media for giveaways and the announcement of our own line of CBD products.