How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Florida in 5 Steps
Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 05/18/2020 in Florida
Updated on May 27, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Cannabis has been used therapeutically for healing and in medical treatments for over 2000 years. Did you know that the Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi (2900 BC) wrote about medical marijuana? In ancient Chinese culture it was simply called “Ma.” It was a respected herb that was popular and documented as an effective medical treatment.
So, why do so many states in America have an issue with it? As medical marijuana enjoys a growing acceptance as a clinical wellness option, states have begun to legalize its use. But in many states, patients can still face difficulties acquiring medical marijuana for chronic health needs.
Florida is a state that supports the holistic use of medical marijuana, under the supervision of a certified physician. A decision that has given residents a natural alternative for relief of chronic pain and other health conditions.
How Did Medical Marijuana Become Legalized in Florida?
Until recently, Florida residents with chronic illnesses or disorders didn’t have access to medical marijuana. Both patients and medical experts petitioned the State of Florida to consider the treatment benefits. For specific health conditions, medical cannabis can be used as a holistic therapy to bring comfort and relief from uncomfortable symptoms.
Approximately 70% of the voters in the State of Florida approved the adoption of legalized medical marijuana. On June 16, 2014 Florida became the 22nd state to provide legalized access to medicinal marijuana through licenced dispensaries. However, shortly afterward, Former Governor Rick Scott reversed the decision, and moved to legally ban the smoking of marijuana in all forms.
Gov. Ron DeSantis prompted and signed legislation to repeal the ban in 2017. An important change that allowed residents of Florida to become certified medical marijuana card holders. It opened up a legal path for natural remedies and for patients with chronic diseases and disorders.
What Happened After Medical Marijuana Became Legal in Florida?
When a State legalizes access to medical marijuana for qualified patients, it is an act of care and compassion. A recent medical study published in the U. S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health revealed some statistics that demonstrate the scope and need for alternative cannabis therapies now, and in the future.
In “An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach to Public Health,” it was reported that almost half of all Americans are currently diagnosed with a chronic disease. Roughly 45% or 133 million Americans are currently diagnosed with one or more chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, organ failure, heart disease, and stroke.
With increased age comes increased risk of life-threatening chronic diseases. In fact, from 2019 to 2029, approximately 10,000 Americans will turn age 65 every day. In 2018, the American government spent $2 trillion dollars on public and private healthcare; 75% of the funding went to resolve patients with chronic diseases.
Medical marijuana provides relief and wellness benefits for patients with a wide variety of chronic pain or health problems. With the growing rate of patients who require treatment, Florida has provided a process to apply for and register for your own medical cannabis card online.
Source: PMCID: PMC5876976 PMID: 29494555
The process of applying and obtaining medical cannabis in Florida hasn’t changed much since it was legalized. Florida allows both permanent and seasonal residents to access the MMJ program. This provision is unique to Florida, and not available in many other states where medical marijuana is legalized.
Seasonal residents in Florida (snowbirds) spent between 4-6 months wintering in the Sunshine State. The average age of these transient tourists is 60 years of age and up. Whether they are traveling from States that have legalized medical marijuana or not, seniors have the option of becoming certified for a medical marijuana card. They can now enjoy the convenience of an online medical evaluation and certification process in Florida.
How can patients become certified for medical cannabis? There are five steps for residents of the State of Florida, which currently do not require an in-person visit to a certified physician.
Step 1: Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in Florida
Patients in Florida must have a pre-diagnosed and qualifying medical conditions to be eligible for certification. A written survey is required to ensure that the legal health conditions are met. This requires a formal diagnosis from the patient’s primary healthcare provider, or family physician.
Adults 18 years of age or older can become certified for medical marijuana in Florida. Patients who have a terminal health condition and prognosis, may also qualify with the consent of their legal guardian and caregiver. Medical records are required for review, to confirm the qualifying health condition(s).
Florida residents (permanent or snowbirds) are also required to provide proof of residency. This can be municipal or government bills, showing the name and address of the patient applicant. Government issued photo identification is also required.
Step 2: Preparing for Your Doctor Visit
Many physicians in Florida are comfortable with recommending medical cannabis for chronic or terminal health conditions; but not all of them. Patients who are exploring natural alternatives for relief of painful or disruptive symptoms may not be certain where to start. Primary care providers that are not on the Florida State Medical Marijuana Use Registry may not evaluate or help certify patients for a medical cannabis card.
Where should Florida patients look when they want to be evaluated by a physician and become certified for medical marijuana? MarijuanaDoctors.com provides a directory of leading medical marijuana physicians and explains the services each physician offers.
Rather than searching multiple websites, Marijuana Doctors has provided a one-stop resource for Florida residents. Medical practices that provide online medical marijuana certification services and dispensaries are featured. We also encourage patient reviews of certified Florida providers to help patients pick the right MMJ physician for their needs.
Step 3: Online Marijuana Doctors
Every step is taken to protect the confidentiality of patient information. You do not have to go to a dispensary or visit the doctor’s office; you can be evaluated online by the doctor. A HIPAA-compliant video conferencing system is used to connect the patient to the registered Florida State Medical Marijuana Physician.
Do you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to drive? Before online evaluation and certification, Florida residents had to drive to a local doctor’s office or dispensary. That has changed to accommodate individuals with mobility impairments and those without access to transportation.
Patients can schedule the online evaluation with a doctor through the secure telehealth platform. You will meet your online doctor who will conduct a medical evaluation, and ask you some questions. This online session confirms whether the patient qualifies for medical marijuana.
If you have qualified for a medical marijuana card in Florida, the doctor will then include your name and relevant information into the Florida Marijuana Use Registry. Florida’s state Department of health registry makes it possible for any patient to conveniently renew the Florida medical marijuana card online.
Step 4: Submission of the Medical Card Application
The submission of this application is the most tedious and longest of the process. How quickly your medical marijuana card is processed, will depend on the number of applicants at that time. On average, patients who have qualifying medical conditions can expect processing to take about ten business days.
The submission is reviewed to ensure that all your paperwork is in order, and that you meet the legal criteria. If there is any problem with your application for medical marijuana in the State of Florida, you may be asked to reapply. That also requires another fee to the certified physician for a new evaluation and application process.
It is important to make sure your pre-diagnosis information is correct to help expedite your application for a Florida medical marijuana card. Talk to your primary care physician about your health conditions, and whether he or she feels that medical cannabis may be beneficial. Remember, only a specially certified physician in Florida can conduct an evaluation as part of the certification process for a medical marijuana card.
Why are so many residents in Florida exploring alternative treatment options with medical cannabis? Many Florida patients find that medical cannabis helps with symptoms of pain, nausea and for muscle spasms.
Patients in Florida who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment may find that food tastes and smells unappetizing. This is a common side effect and it can result in involuntary weight loss, and suppression of the immune system when nutritional needs are not being met. Specific types of medical marijuana help to stimulate a healthy appetite once more.
Step 5: Approval By The State
After you have successfully submitted all the required information you will be approved by the state to receive your MMJ card. After approval of your application, you will receive an email notification. The approval email is all that you need to make an order from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Florida while you wait for your card to arrive. So, while you’re waiting, go check out some MMTCs! Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers are the ONLY place you can legally purchase marijuana in Florida!
The State of Florida has streamlined the process for medical marijuana certification. Medical marijuana cards in Florida expire after one-year, but the renewal process can also be done online. Many physicians provide a discounted rate for MMJ cards for returning patients who are renewing their certification.
The Florida Medical Cannabis Card Costs
When making your application for an MMJ card inFlorida, keep in mind that you will have two expenses. You will need to pay the initial payment to meet with a qualified physician and the cost will differ depending on location. This can range from $100 to $300! You will also need a registration fee for the application which will cost you $75. Full-face passport-type color photographs which will be required.
Keep in mind that you will have to renew the medical marijuana card annually and you will need to meet the doctor consultation fee and the registration fee again. You are also required to have finished the renewal process45 days before the date of expiration.
The Qualifying Conditions
Residents of Florida who have chronic diseases that impact quality of life, can try medical cannabis for therapeutic relief of a variety of symptoms. For severe chronic health conditions, prescription medications can have side-effects that can complicate your condition or lifestyle.
If you are a patient in Florida and diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition, you can get legal access to medical marijuana. The recognized conditions include:
Residents in Florida must be diagnosed by their primary care provider, and not by the physician who conducts the evaluation for a medical marijuana card. You can also be eligible if you have a terminal condition that has been diagnosed by a doctor other than the physician issuing the certification.
Patients who have chronic nonmalignant pain as a result of qualifying conditions should qualify for medical marijuana. The presence of underlying chronic health conditions (more than one) may also qualify for a medical marijuana card in Florida.
What Happens if You Lose Your Florida Medical Marijuana Card?
There are some important steps to take if your medical marijuana card is lost or stolen in Florida. You will be required to print and fill out the ‘Change, Replacement or Surrender’ Request form. The form is available on the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) department of the Florida Health network.
The ‘Change, Replacement, or Surrender’ form from OMMU can also be used to update your residential address information, or to designate a new caregiver who will be assisting you. The form is mailed to the OMMU in Florida, with a $15 check for administrative processing. You will need to provide your social security number on the form. That information is kept confidential under HIPAA regulations.
What Should You Do if Your Medical Marijuana Card is Stolen in Florida?
Even though photo identification is required to pick up any prescription for medical marijuana, many card holders are the victim of cannabis card theft. And since MMJ is legal at the State level but not at the Federal level, patients often feel apprehensive about reporting the stolen card to law enforcement.
If nothing in your home is of legal significance or interest, you should immediately report your stolen Florida medical marijuana card to the authorities, and to your certified medical cannabis physician.
Where Can You Buy Legal Medical Marijuana in Florida?
You can buy cannabis products from any licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Florida. There are over 100 licensed dispensaries in Florida; they are easy to find. However, if you don’t live near a physical location you can find out which dispensaries offer free delivery across the entire state because most of them do. Our directory of Florida Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) and Medical Marijuana Physicians can help you narrow down your selections, and find the right medical team to help you with your health needs.
With all the above information on how to get your medical marijuana card you now have an idea where to begin. It might be a long process but if you ask others who are using it holistically, it’s worth every step to be pain free.