Florida does not have the oldest medical cannabis law in the country, but it is already becoming home to one of the largest medical cannabis programs in the nation.
From a population perspective, Florida is the third largest state, only behind California and Texas. California has the largest medical cannabis program in the country, but Texas’ program is extremely limited and the patient count there is low as a result.
The medical cannabis program in Florida has experienced its growing pains but it is still succeeding.
One of the biggest examples of the program’s success came this month as Florida’s medical cannabis program passed a major milestone.
Florida passes the 100,000 patient mark
According to a weekly update issued by the State of Florida (Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use) there are now over 100,000 medical cannabis patients in the state.
Out of the six-figure patient count, roughly 75,000 of them have identification cards that allow them to make purchases at licensed dispensaries. Over 1,300 doctors have registered in order to qualify patients for the program.
That makes Florida home to the third largest medical cannabis program in America according to Marijuana Policy Project, only behind California and Michigan.
Florida may or may not pass California someday, but with the current growth rate, it will almost certainly pass Michigan.
New York, which has a population close to the same size as Florida, has less than half as many patients as Florida despite having an older medical cannabis law on the books.
Legal issues are ongoing in Florida
Currently, Florida does not allow patients to cultivate their own cannabis, which provides a boost to the medical cannabis industry in the state since the only legal way to obtain cannabis is via a licensed dispensary.
But a recent court ruling resulted in a decision in favor of a 77-year-old medical cannabis patient who successfully argued that he needs to be able to cultivate his own cannabis to treat his condition.
The decision only applies to the one patient, but it could set the stage to more legal challenges and put pressure on Florida lawmakers to allow home cultivation.
Another legal battle that is ongoing in Florida involves a patient’s right to smoke cannabis versus smokeless forms of cannabis.
A favorable court ruling would have a huge impact on Florida’s medical cannabis industry since it would dramatically expand the inventory that Florida dispensaries would be able to offer.
What qualifying conditions does Florida’s medical cannabis program currently have?
Florida currently has the following qualifying conditions for its medical cannabis program:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those listed
- Terminal illness
- Chronic nonmalignant pain
Hopefully in the near future all conditions that benefit from cannabis consumption will be part of Florida’s medical cannabis program.
The Green Flower team is also hopeful that Florida will legalize cannabis for adult use soon, with 2020 looking particularly promising. If you live in Florida, keep putting pressure on your state lawmakers to get them on the right side of history!