Cannabis in Florida

Cannabis in Florida is legal for medical use per Florida Amendment 2 (2016), but illegal for recreational use.

The Victor Licata case[edit]

On October 16, 1933, 21-year-old Victor Licata used an axe to murder his parents, two brothers, and a sister while they were asleep. Despite evidence Licata had a pre-existing history of mental illness, police and the press made unattributed claims that he was "addicted" to marijuana. On October 17, 1933, the Tampa Bay Times wrote:

W. D. Bush, city chief detective, said he had made an investigation prior to the crime and learned the slayer had been addicted to smoking marihuana cigarettes for more than six months.[1]

However, a day later the Chief of Tampa Police Department downplayed the role the drug had in the murders, although he pledged himself to the cause of marijuana prohibition:

Maybe the weed only had a small indirect part in the alleged insanity of the youth, but I am declaring now and for all time that the increasing use of this narcotic must stop and will be stopped." (October 18, 1933) [2]

An October 20, 1933, editorial on page six of the Tampa Morning Tribune was entitled "Stop This Murderous Smoke".[3] The editorial writer called for the prohibition of marijuana:

[I]t may or may not be wholly true that the pernicious marijuana cigarette is responsible for the murderous mania of a Tampa young man in exterminating all the members of his family within his reach — but whether or not the poisonous mind-wrecking weed is mainly accountable for the tragedy its sale should not be and should never have been permitted here or elsewhere.[2]

CBD oil (2014)[edit]

On 20 March 2014, the Florida House of Representatives Budget Committee passed the "so-called Charlotte's Web measure (CS/HB 843)"[4] designed to limit prosecutors' ability to prosecute those in possession of low THC/high CBD marijuana ("0.5 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 15 percent of cannabidiol") used for treating seizures. The bill took effect 1 July 2014.[5][6]

Failed medical cannabis (2014)[edit]

A constitutional amendment sponsored by United For Care obtained 745,613 signatures by January 24, 2014 (683,149 were required by Feb. 1). The Supreme Court in Florida ruled 4-3 in favor of allowing the initiative to be decided by voters in the November election, which was decided on January 27, 2014. The House Bill and the Senate Bill for the legalization of medical marijuana is called the "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act" which received its first read on March 4, 2014 and states: "requiring the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to regulate the manufacture, cultivation, possession, wholesale distribution, dispensing, purchase, delivery, and sale of cannabis for medical use and the manufacture, possession, purchase, sale, use, and delivery of drug paraphernalia; providing that the department is responsible for the licensure and permitting of dispensaries and medical cannabis farms and the registration of owners, directors, officers, members, incorporators, employees, and agents of such farms and dispensaries, etc." This bill would create more restrictive rules than exist in any of the other states which have legalized medical marijuana. HB 843 ("Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act") only allows cannabis oil that contains more than 15% of cannabidiol (CBD) and no more than 0.5% THC.[7]

In 2014, Florida Amendment 2 (2014) put the question of legalizing medical marijuana to voters. "Amendment 2" failed, receiving 57.6% of the vote; this was short of the 60% supermajority required for constitutional amendments in Florida.[8]

Medical cannabis (2016)[edit]

Florida Amendment 2 passed during the general election on November 8, 2016, with a vote of 71.3% for versus 28.7% against.[9] The goal of Amendment 2 is to alleviate those suffering from these medical conditions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualified medical condition or other debilitating medical conditions comparable to those listed.[10]

Under Amendment 2, medical marijuana will be given to the patient if the physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient. Initially, under the Florida regulations smoking the medication was not allowed; instead the product could be consumed as edibles or by vaping, oils, sprays or pills.[10] However, on May 25, 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban on smoking is unconstitutional.[11] That ruling was appealed by the administration of Governor Scott but the administration of Governor DeSantis dropped the appeal and asked for the legislature to lift the restriction.[12] A bill that removed the prohibition on smoking was passed in March 2019.[13]

County and municipal reforms[edit]

Miami-Dade County (2015)[edit]

In June 2015, Miami-Dade County commissioners approved by a 10–3 vote a plan to allow civil citations to be issued for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. Persons issued a citation are required to pay a $100 fine or perform two days of community service.[14]

Broward County (2015)[edit]

In November 2015, Broward County commissioners approved by a unanimous vote a plan to allow civil citations to be issued for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. The penalty was set at $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second, and $500 for a third.[15]

Palm Beach County (2015)[edit]

In December 2015, Palm Beach County commissioners approved by a 4–1 vote a plan to allow civil citations to be issued for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. First and second offenses are punishable by a $100 fine; a third offense cannot be cited.[16] Instead of a fine, cited individuals can opt for 10 hours of community service.[17]

Tampa (2016)[edit]

In March 2016, Tampa city council approved by a 5–1 vote a plan to allow civil citations to be issued for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis. The penalty was set at $75 for a first offense, $150 for a second, and $300 for a third.[18]

Orlando (2016)[edit]

In May 2016, Orlando city council approved by a 4–3 vote a plan to allow civil citations to be issued for possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis.[19] The penalty was set at $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second.[19] As an alternative, eight hours of drug education or community service can be substituted.[20] The program went into effect in October 2016.[20]

Out-of-State Medical Marijuana Authorizations[edit]

Like driver’s licenses, some states accept the MMJ card from other states as well. Presently, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire accepts MMJ card issued in Florida, some conditions may apply with respective states' laws.[21]


  1. ^ Sloman. Reefer madness: the history of marijuana in America. p. 61.
  2. ^ a b Sloman. Reefer madness: the history of marijuana in America. p. 62.
  3. ^ "Licata Newspaper Articles and References (Bibliography)". Uncle Mike's Library. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  4. ^ HB 843 - Medical Marijuana (PDF), Florida House of Representatives, retrieved 2014-03-20 PDF download. "The term [cannabis] does not include any plant of the genus Cannabis that contains 0.5 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 15 percent of cannabidiol; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant or its seeds or resin."
  5. ^ Kennedy, John (20 March 2014), Charlotte's Web marijuana bill advances in House, despite questions, Post on Politics, retrieved 2014-03-20
  6. ^ Smith, Nancy (20 March 2014), $1 Million for Medical Marijuana Research Sails Through House Appropriations, Sunshine State News, archived from the original on 22 March 2014, retrieved 2014-03-20
  7. ^ O'Keefe, Karen. "8 States with Pending Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana - Medical Marijuana -" ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. February 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Medical marijuana: On the ballot in Florida in 2016?". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  9. ^ Florida Amendment 2 — Expand Medical Marijuana — Results: Approved The New York Times, November 9, 2016
  10. ^ a b "Florida Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Law". Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  11. ^ "Florida: Court Strikes Down Legislative Ban On Medical Cannabis Smoking - NORML - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws". Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  12. ^ "Florida: Governor Demands Lawmakers Lift Ban On Smoked Cannabis - NORML - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws". Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  13. ^ "Senate Bill 182 (2019) - The Florida Senate". Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  14. ^ Hanks, Douglas (June 30, 2015). "Miami-Dade adopts $100 fine for pot possession". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  15. ^ Wallman, Brittany (November 11, 2015). "Broward downgrades penalty for pot possession". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  16. ^ Washington, Wayne (December 15, 2015). "Palm Beach County's new pot law: $100 fine for holding about ¾-ounce". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  17. ^ Swisher, Skyler (December 15, 2015). "Palm Beach County eases penalty for marijuana possession". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Danielson, Richard (March 17, 2016). "Tampa City Council okays civil fines for small amounts of marijuana". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Weiner, Jeff (May 9, 2016). "Orlando OKs citations for marijuana possession in small amounts". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Cordeiro, Monivette (May 9, 2016). "Orlando City Council adopts use of civil citations for marijuana, but with some changes". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  21. ^ "Florida MMJ Card Reciprocity - Which U.S. States Accept FL issued cards". Retrieved 2019-02-09.