What Every Floridian Should Know About Health and Wellness Laws

While medical marijuana is legal in Florida, only certain patients qualify to use it – and it is a crime to use marijuana without a medical need. Learn about who is allowed to use medical marijuana and how they can use it.

There are also certain resources you should know if you or someone you know is in need of mental health and/or substance abuse services.

Yes. Article X, Section 29 of the Florida Constitution and Section 381.986, Florida Statutes permits and regulates the use of medical marijuana. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under both Florida and Federal law. Federal Law still prohibits the use of marijuana even when used medically.

A Qualified Patient. A Qualified Patient is defined as a Florida resident who: (i) has been diagnosed with a Debilitating Medical Condition; (ii) has a Physician Certification; and (iii) has a valid qualifying Patient Identification Card issued by the Florida Department of Health.  

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Other debilitating medical conditions comparable to those listed above, for which the physician believes the benefits of marijuana use will likely outweigh the potential health risks to the patient
  • A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification
  • Chronic non-malignant pain

Yes. Qualified Patients are allowed to designate a “Caregiver.” Only one Caregiver at a time may be designated for each individual Qualified Patient unless the Qualified Patient:

  • is a minor and the Caregivers are his or her parents or legal guardians; 
  • is an adult who has an intellectual or developmental disability that prevents him or her from caring for himself or herself and the Caregivers are his or her parents or legal guardians; or
  • is admitted to a hospice program. 

The Caregiver must be over 21 and must: (i) agree in writing to assist the Qualified Patient’s medical use of marijuana; (ii) be registered in the medical marijuana use registry as a Caregiver; (iii) must successfully complete a Caregiver certification course; and (iv) pass a background screening.

The Caregiver may not be: (i) a qualified physician; (ii) employed or have a monetary interest in a medical marijuana treatment center; and (iii) may not receive compensation for providing this service to a Qualified Patient except for actual expenses.

A Florida licensed medical physician or osteopathic physician who holds an active, unrestricted physician license and has completed a medical marijuana course and examination. Before prescribing medical marijuana, the physician must have treated the patient (in person, physical examinations) for at least three months, obtained voluntary written informed consent from the patient for the treatment, determined the risks of medical marijuana to be reasonable, and registered as the physician ordering the low-THC cannabis or medical marijuana for a 45-day supply.   

Yes. Medical marijuana may be vaped through a vape pen, which is formally referred to as a “marijuana delivery device” in the statute.  The statute defines a marijuana delivery device as “[a]n object used, intended for use, or designed for use in preparing, storing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body, and which is dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient.” 

Yes. They may purchase an “edible” from a medical marijuana treatment center. 

Yes, a Qualified Patient who is over 18 years of age may smoke their medical marijuana if they have been seen by a qualified physician who has issued a physician certification. 

Qualified Patients who are under 18 year of age are treated differently. A qualified physician may not issue a physician certification for marijuana in a form for smoking to a patient who is under 18 years of age unless the patient is diagnosed with a terminal condition, the qualified physician determines that smoking is the most effective route of administration for the patient, and a second physician who is a board-certified pediatrician concurs with that determination. Such determination and concurrence must be documented in the patient’s medical record and in the medical marijuana use registry. The certifying physician must obtain the written informed consent of such patient’s parent or legal guardian before issuing a physician certification to the patient for marijuana in a form for smoking.

Yes. The statute defines a marijuana delivery device as “[a]n object used, intended for use, or designed for use in preparing, storing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body, and which is dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center for medical use by a qualified patient except that delivery devices intended for the medical use of marijuana by smoking need not be dispensed from a medical marijuana treatment center in order to qualify as marijuana delivery devices.” Another part of the statute states that a Qualified Patient and their Caregiver may purchase a marijuana delivery device from a vendor other than a medical marijuana treatment center. F.S.S. § 381.986(14)(b).

No. 

No. 

No. Medical marijuana may not be consumed:

  • in public places unless it is low-THC marijuana;
  • on public transportation, or in a school bus, a vehicle, an aircraft, or a motorboat unless it is low-THC marijuana;
  • in a correctional institute;
  • at a qualified patient’s place of employment unless permitted by the employer;
  • on the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school except that each school district must make accommodations for students who are Qualified Patients to use their medical marijuana. 

No. Qualified Patients may still be arrested for impaired driving. 

Yes. A Qualified Patient shall: have a debilitating medical condition, have the appropriate identification card; only use medical marijuana in permitted places, not transfer the medical marijuana to anyone else, and be placed in the compassionate use registry by the physician prescribing the medical marijuana. Fraudulent representation shall be a first degree misdemeanor. 

Yes. If your employer has a drug-free workplace policy that prohibits the use of marijuana, Florida law permits employers to enforce their policies. You should consult with your employer prior to starting use of medical marijuana.

There are procedures by which an individual can seek help for persons who have mental health or substance abuse problems that reach a certain level. 

The Baker Act is a Florida law that allows the involuntary admission of a person to a treatment facility for a mental health examination. An adult may be held for up to seventy-two hours for the involuntary examination. The examination period for a minor (someone who is seventeen or younger) is shorter. The examination will be conducted if there is reason to believe that the person has a mental illness and because of that illness, the person has either 1.(a) refused voluntary examination or (b) is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary; and 2.(a) without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself, which poses a real and present threat of substantial harm or (b) there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others. 

Many times people hear of law enforcement or mental health professionals (counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists) committing a person to a facility. But this ability is not restricted to just family members or professionals. There are provisions in the Baker Act that permit any adult with direct personal knowledge of the person’s mental health impairment and course of prior treatment to apply to the court for the same type of involuntary examination. 

If a friend, family member, or other person with personal knowledge files the appropriate documents with the Clerk of Court, a Judge may issue an Order directing the Sheriff to take the person to a treatment facility for an involuntary mental health examination. 

Following the examination, one of the following actions must be taken:

  • The person must be released, unless they are charged with a crime, in which case the person must be returned to the custody of a law enforcement officer; or
  • The person must be released for voluntary outpatient treatment; or
  • The person, unless they are charged with a crime, will be asked to consent to placement as a voluntary patient and, if such consent is given, the person will be admitted as a voluntary patient; or
  • A petition for involuntary services must be filed in the circuit court if inpatient treatment is found to be necessary. This is the start of a possible involuntary psychiatric commitment that would continue until the person is determined to be healthy enough for release.

The Marchman Act is a Florida law that provides for the voluntary or involuntary commitment of a person for a substance abuse assessment. The request asking the Court (a petition) to force a person to be assessed must show that there are good faith reasons to believe that: (1) the person is substance abuse impaired, (2) because of such impairment, the person has lost the power of self-control with respect to substances, and (3) either the (a) person has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself/herself or others, (b) the person’s judgment has been so impaired because of substance abuse that the person is incapable of appreciating the need for substance abuse services and to make rational decisions about their need for substance abuse services, or (c) the person will likely suffer from neglect, threatening the person’s well-being, if they do not receive treatment. If the person has previously refused to submit to substance abuse assessment and treatment, that should be stated in the petition.

A Marchman Act petition may be filed by the person's spouse, guardian, relative, a private practitioner, the director of a licensed service provider, or any person with personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse impairment and course of prior treatment. If the appropriate documents are filed with the Clerk of Court, a Judge may issue an Order directing the Sheriff to take the person for an involuntary substance abuse assessment or schedule the matter for a hearing. Once the assessment has been completed, a different petition must be filed with the Court requesting the Court to order the substance abuse treatment. The treatment may be outpatient or inpatient, depending on what the assessment recommends and what the Judge determines is appropriate. An individual can be detained pursuant to a court order for failing to submit to assessments and/or treatment.

The Clerk of Court in the county where the individual resides will have sample forms and documents that can be used to get someone help for mental health or substance abuse treatment. The papers are required to be notarized and sworn under penalty of perjury. A Judge assigned to hear those cases in the county will review the Petitions and sign whatever orders the Judge deems appropriate. There may be Court hearings scheduled at which both the concerned person and the impaired or ill person are required to appear. An attorney is normally available for the impaired or ill persons, if requested.  

It is a good thing to try to get help for someone who needs it. Mental illness and substance abuse are both problems that can make it very hard for a person to realize on his or her own that he or she needs help until it is too late.

Many products used in daily home and business activities are considered hazardous and must be contained and disposed of legally. Examples include:

  • used engine oil, AC coolants, and engine fluids
  • solvents and pool chemicals
  • batteries and electronic hardware
  • paper and plastic packaging
  • herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers
  • medicines and medical packaging

Federal and Florida laws require people to properly store and dispose of hazardous material. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) websites contain guidelines and contact information regarding proper storage and disposal of hazardous materials.

Reduce your use of plastic and paper packaging (grocery bags and water bottles), consume less potable water with restrictive shower heads, low volume toilets, and energy efficient appliances. Irrigate only when necessary. Use native flora and landscaping near your home. Use energy efficient lighting and AC systems as needed. See more tips at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website.

Many animals and birds are protected species under the law. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lists hundreds of endangered and threatened species. Protected animals include the Florida panther, manatee, scrub jay, and gopher tortoise, to name a few.

Florida’s coastal communities face challenges dealing with increasingly complex flooding, erosion and habitat shifts. Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection offers resources to prepare Florida’s coastline for the effects of climate change, especially rising sea levels.

An excellent source of information is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website. The home page lists regulatory plans, public notices, pending legislation, news articles, and educational calendars. Your local police and fire departments may also have information regarding disposal of waste and recycling programs.