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Medical marijuana now legal in Florida: what that means for you

On the ballot this past November, Florida residents cast their votes regarding the legalization of medical marijuana use. The measure passed overwhelmingly, allowing chronically, terminally or seriously ill Floridians to have access to marijuana for the treatment of certain conditions or to manage chronic pain.

This may be great news if you face the challenges of a serious medical condition, but it is important to understand what this amendment to the state's constitution means for you or a loved one.

Does your condition qualify you for the use of medical marijuana?

This amendment allows health care professionals to prescribe medical marijuana as a treatment for certain conditions and illnesses. You may qualify for this type of prescription if you have a diagnosis of any of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Crohn's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

Although this initiative passed in the November election, there is much to be determined regarding the prescribing and dispensing process. The Department of Health must regulate the treatment centers approved to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana and regulate the process of issuing medical marijuana identification cards to qualifying patients and caregivers.

Florida's medical marijuana program is still in the beginning stages, and patients may be required to wait before they can receive a prescription for medical cannabis. Once the appropriate regulatory processes are in place, individuals may not receive medical marijuana if they do not have the following:

  • A diagnosis of a qualifying medical condition
  • A valid prescription from a physician
  • A valid identification card

If you believe you are a candidate for a medical marijuana prescription, you should take the appropriate steps to understand your legal rights and options in light of this new constitutional amendment.

Defending against drug possession charges

Outside of prescribed medicinal use, marijuana possession remains illegal in Florida and can bring serious penalties if convicted. Even with a qualifying condition, failure to have identification and a valid prescription could lead to criminal charges.

If you are dealing with legal concerns related to drugged driving, drug possession or other marijuana-related charges, do not face these charges alone. You may be able to mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction, but you must take quick action to protect your rights and shield your interests. Under any circumstances, drug charges are serious and merit a strong defense.

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