Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (Senate Bill 1030), popularly known as the “Charlotte’s Web Law,” legalized the use of certain non-euphoric strains of marijuana to treat certain patients.
With the passage of several subsequent laws in the following years, medical marijuana medicines are now available to Florida “Qualified Patients.”
Medical marijuana in Florida
In June 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (Senate Bill 1030), legalizing the use of certain non-euphoric strains of marijuana to treat patients suffering from cancer or “a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.” This is understood to include conditions like severe epilepsy and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The law’s support is partly based upon the success of the nationally-publicized “Charlotte’s Web” variety, which has been shown to be effective in treating epilepsy for some patients but does not produce the characteristic psychoactive experience of most other cannabis varieties.
The law requires that medicines contain more than 10% CBD, and 0.8% or less THC, by weight (see The science of cannaninoids). It legalizes only an extraction of the marijuana plant, a cannabis oil to be taken orally.
In March 2016, House Bill 307 expanded Florida’s Right to Try Act to include medical marijuana. It broadly expands allowed THC levels and use of medical marijuana for patients with legally-qualifying diseases and less than a year to live.
Under the bill, licensed dispensing organizations can grow and distribute medical marijuana derived from the whole plant — not just the low-THC products allowed under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 — to terminal patients.
In November 2016, 73% of Florida voters approved Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment to provide medical marijuana to alleviate suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, MS, Crohn’s disease and other debilitating medical conditions, without requiring that they be diagnosed as terminal. In 2017, the State passed Senate Bill 8-A to implement the Medical Marijuana Amendment. It provides for the qualifying use of full-THC marijuana through edibles and vaping, but prohibits the smoking of marijuana.
Overall, Florida is home to an estimated 1.25 million people suffering from diseases and ailments for which medical marijuana may be an effective treatment.
How to become a Qualified Patient
In order to be become a Qualified Patient, this law requires that:
The patient must be a permanent Florida resident.
If a patient is under the age of 18, a second physician must agree with the determination of need for the patient.
The patient must suffer from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms; or symptoms of the same.
Other treatments must have been tried without success.
The ordering physician must determine the risks of using low‐THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient.
The ordering physician must register the patient in the Compassionate Use Registry.
The ordering physician must maintain a patient treatment plan which outlines the dose, route of administration, planned duration, monitoring of the patient’s illness, and tolerance of the low‐THC cannabis, and submit the plan to the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy, on a quarterly basis for research purposes.
Can any doctor in Florida prescribe low‐THC cannabis?
The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 provides that low‐THC cannabis can only be ordered by physicians licensed under Chapter 458 or Chapter 459 of Florida Statutes. To qualify, the ordering physician must successfully complete an 8‐hour course that encompasses the clinical indications for the appropriate use of low‐THC cannabis, the appropriate delivery
mechanisms, the contraindications for such use, and the relevant laws governing the ordering, dispensing, and possessing of this substance. The physician must successfully pass an examination upon completion of the course.
In other words…
To become a Qualified Patient, you must see a physician who is licensed under chapter 458 or 459 of Florida Statutes.
If the physician determines that you meet the legal requirements as described above, he or she may add you to the Compassionate Use Registry.
The physician may then order your low-THC cannabis oil, and must enter and maintain required records in the Registry.
If you terminate treatment with the physician, or if he or she believes you no longer require the medicine, the physician must remove you from the Registry.