Florida Patient Guide For Medical Marijuana Therapy
Medical Marijuana (MMJ) patients in Florida have many questions about how the new program works, who qualifies, the law and other aspects of legal cannabis use. To help patients navigate the process, Liberate Physician Centers offers the following information:
In November 2016, Florida voters approved constitutional amendment to the State constitution allowing for the use of MMJ with 71 percent voter support. After the amendment was passed, the State Legislature passed a law that essentially put into effect how the MMJ program would work for patients opting for MMJ therapy, including previous laws governing the use of medical cannabis, and Governor Rick Scott signed the law in June 2017. The result of these and other actions is a comprehensive MMJ program in Florida. While the Legislature may change the rules for how the program will work going forward, the core right of patients to have access to MMJ is permanent, as it is now part of the State constitution.
To use MMJ in Florida, patients must have a “Qualified Condition”. The specific conditions itemized in the law are: Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and any terminal illness.
In addition to these specific conditions, patients can qualify if they have a medical condition of the same kind or class to those listed above, or if the physician believes the medical benefits to the patient outweigh the risks of MMJ therapy. This provision in the law gives the physician significant latitude in treating patients with medical cannabis, and is a primary reason why physician supervision, oversight and certification are an essential element of the overall profess. Chronic pain is not currently approved as a separate condition, but can be approved by a physician if the pain is associated with another medical condition. In these instances, Liberate must submit to the State additional documentation for each individual patient. This data will be compiled for study and a broader understanding of the ways MMJ can help future patients.
The Liberate Process
Liberate encourages people who believe they might qualify for MMJ therapy to make an appointment. During the first visit, the patient will fill out a medical history and complete a registration, meet with an advisor about the Florida program, and give our office permission to obtain necessary medical records. We encourage you to bring to your initial appointment any medical records you may have, but there is no additional cost for us to get your records on your behalf.
Once this information is assembled, the patient then meets with our licensed physician for an in-person exam and a certification is issued for qualified patients. During the process, we will guide you through the steps that allow you to obtain a state-issued card, which allows you to obtain medical marijuana at any dispensary in the State of Florida. These facilities, also known as Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers, allow for mail delivery of medicine or in-person purchase. Your medical information and treatment at a Liberate facility is fully confidential and protected under HIPAA and other law.
Residency and Visitors (“Snowbirds”)
Florida residents automatically are eligible for MMJ Therapy. Visitors also qualify if they will be in the state for 31 consecutive days. Proof of residency is simply a valid driver’s license or state ID card. Temporary residents or visitors can meet the 31-day rule through a relative’s Florida address or a property deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet, residential rental or lease agreement, utility bill, utility work order, mail from a financial institution, or mail from a governmental agency. There is no “reciprocity” in Florida for patients that have an MMJ card issued from another state.
Minors under the age of 18 are eligible for MMJ therapy. Additional documentation is necessary and requires the patient’s certified birth certification to establish identity, as well as parental/guardian consent. For patients under the age of 18, the parent or legal guardian must provide the Department with a certified copy of a birth certificate or a current record of registration from a Florida K-12 school. Additionally, the parent or legal guardian must be a Florida resident. Additionally, parents or legal guardians are required to obtain a caregiver card for each qualified minor.
The initial visit to Liberate includes registration, medical record retrieval, a personal consultation with a patient advocate and overall administration of each case. The cost varies depending on the location (please see the Liberate website for the office you’ll be visiting). The second visit is the Certification visit with the Liberate physician and includes an in-person exam. Once approved, there is a $75 fee payable to the State of Florida to be listed on the state Registry and to be issued a Registry ID Card. Caregivers and parents/guardians of minors must also obtain an ID card from the state so that they can purchase medicine from a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (dispensary). Caregivers can assist registered patients who might otherwise have difficulties due to their medical condition. Office visits may be paid in cash or using Credit/Debit cards.
Dispensaries, MMJ Acquisition, Smoking and Travel
Dispensaries are located throughout the State, and Liberate will provide you with information on their locations when you become a patient. New dispensaries are opening virtually every week as more dispensary licenses are issued, and this is expected to continue throughout the first year of the new program.
Florida law allows home delivery of MMJ if it is more convenient.
Cardholders may not ‘home grow’ marijuana plants under Florida law, and ‘smokable’ ingestion of leaf product is not allowed (but is currently being challenged by lawsuit). Currently available products include oil for vaping, juices, edible oils, encapsulations, tinctures, topicals, and suppositories. Additional edibles are currently being developed and will be available soon.
When travelling, we suggest you consult with us as part of your overall treatment. We may be able to assist you in obtaining medicine in other legal states.