Substance Use Law

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.

If someone you know needs substance abuse services, there is a way to get them help.

The Marchman Act

The Marchman Act is a Florida law that provides for the voluntary or involuntary commitment of a person for a substance abuse assessment. If an individual needing substance abuse services refuses to seek treatment voluntarily, then a person may request a court to require the individual to submit to a substance abuse assessment (involuntary).

Any request (petition) asking the court 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.
  3. One of the following apply:
    1. The person has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself/herself or others.
    2. The person’s judgment has been so impaired because of substance abuse that he or she is incapable of appreciating the need for substance abuse services and making rational decisions about their need for substance abuse services.
    3. The person will likely suffer from neglect, threatening his or her 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, by a private practitioner or the director of a licensed service provider, or by 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 an 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 done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, 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.

More Information About Substance Use Law