CBD in Florida: What You NEED to Know
The state of Florida has always been a strange one in the USA. Known for its elderly population, high rates of immigration from Cuba and Caribbean nations, and its exasperating weather – Florida manages to always end up in the news for some reason or another.
However, the same qualities that make Florida uniquely weird is the same thing that makes this state surprisingly supportive of cannabis. All of the composite ingredients – from elderly people looking for a natural medical alternative to a highly liberal immigrant population – make for a perfect wave of support in cannabis legalization.
However, what are the actual laws regarding cannabis, specifically concerning CBD oil?
Florida’s CBD Laws
The state of Florida has a much-deserved reputation for being the home of the elderly. This is because of the persistently warm temperature in the southern parts of the state, making it ideal for retirees and those looking for a more comfortable life. However, the very people who move down to Florida are typically on the right end of the political spectrum, making them stereotypically rather against marijuana in general. Yet those same people are also some of those who would most benefit from marijuana legalization.
This confusing dichotomy concerning marijuana is mirrored in Florida’s laws. Currently, Florida is still one of the strictest states in the USA regarding marijuana charges. If caught with illegally obtained marijuana for recreational use in the state of Florida, you can expect a harsh prison sentence in one of the state’s maximum security prisons. However, medical cannabis is technically legalized, making Florida seem like the ideal place to go for medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately, as is ever the case when it comes to marijuana in the United States of America, it is not quite so simple.
Let’s go over the rather odd legal history of cannabis, starting back in 2014 with a surprisingly progressive bill known as the Charlotte Web Measure.
CBD in Florida…The Beginning of the Process
In 2014, CS/HB 843 was passed, which is frequently referred to as a legalization of CBD oil. Though the media rejoiced about their state’s progressive politics, this bill was not a legalization of CBD oil. Instead, this bill worked to limit the ability of state prosecutors from pursuing cases linked to possession of marijuana that contained more than 15% CBD and less 0.5% THC. In essence, this was not actual legalization – only a stop gap.
This was effectively the same as the federal Cole Memorandum, made by the US Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, which encouraged federal enforces to not pursue marijuana charges in states that had passed laws in support of marijuana. This means that, while the Charlotte Web Measure was a welcome step forwards in Florida cannabis, it was not quite enough.
Real, Legalized Medical Cannabis in Florida
The plight of legalized medical marijuana in Florida wasn’t just a government initiative; the people actively supported it as well. There was a failed cannabis act known as the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act which failed only three months before the passing of the Charlotte’s Web Measure. This was brought onto the ballot due to fierce campaigning, yet only achieved a slim majority of the vote -57.6%. Though this might seem enough in normal circumstances, the requirement is to hit 60% to form a supermajority for constitutional amendments.
This makes the Charlotte Web Measure a stop gap designed to appease those annoyed at the failing of the ballot. Luckily, there was even more change on the horizon a mere two years later. In 2016, the same amendment was put to the vote again with only a few small adjustments regarding the conditions that could be treated with marijuana.
This time, Florida Amendment 2 passed with 71.3% of the vote. This made marijuana entirely legal, but only for the specific purpose of treating cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV and a few other persistent and long-term illnesses. Again, while this does sound like a huge victory, there is a significant problem with this piece of legislation – it was up to the doctors. The use of medical marijuana would only be permitted with express permission from your local General Practitioner, and even then only if the use of marijuana would outweigh the potential health risks.
This is fairly standard, but the unofficial position among doctors in Florida was one of pretty aggressive anti-marijuana mentality. Even today, it is rather difficult to get your hands on a Medical Marijuana card, as the doctors are extremely hesitant to hand it out. What’s worse, the law expressly forbade the act of smoking the medication, leaving with hopeful Medical Marijuana users with only edibles or oils as legitimate options to imbibe their medicine.
Thankfully, this last issue was only very recently repealed: Judge Karen Gievers ruled that this specific ban on smoking marijuana was unconstitutional, as it sought to control the individual actions of free citizens with their own legalized medicine. After being upheld by Governor DeSantis (though only after being obstructed by Governor Scott in last days in office), this restriction was lifted, allowing all Medical Marijuana users to enjoy their medicine however they want.
This still doesn’t help the issue of how difficult it is actually to get a Medical Marijuana card. Luckily though, there are some other ways to get CBD oil that don’t require a strenuous and challenging process.
How to Get CBD Oil in Florida Without a Medical Marijuana Card
Despite the current legislation requiring a Medical Marijuana card to get access to CBD oil, it is important to remember the almighty divide that exists in the USA: The federal government versus state laws. Even though Florida’s position on marijuana is exceptionally clear, it is still possible to get access to CBD oil across state lines through online retailers. This is because CBD oil is federally legal, due to the fact that this CBD oil is commonly sold as a food additive or a nutritional supplement.
It is also possible to get CBD oil regardless of your state’s laws, though again only for the purpose of treating certain specific conditions, due to the recent legalization of low THC and high CBD marijuana for the purpose of treating epilepsy. You can also find CBD oil sold in most retail establishments in stores. If you are looking for CBD oil to take for whatever reason, you might think yourself unimaginably lucky to have found some CBD in a store that doesn’t ask for your Medical Marijuana card.
However, the CBD oil that is sold in most retail stores on high streets is not going to be medical grade – instead, it is going to be extremely low percentages of actual CBD, instead its likely to be primarily made up of the oil that is used to suspend the CBD. Additionally, some unscrupulous retailers will sell a product that they label as CBD oil, but it is actually nothing more than hemp seed oil. Though that might sound like the same thing, it is essential to understand the distinction.
Hemp seed oil is a pressed oil made from the seeds of hemp plants, usually containing an absolutely infinitesimal quantity of cannabinoids; it is the same thing as olive oil or other cooking oils, only made from hemp. Meanwhile, CBD oil is specifically extracted cannabinoids suspended within the oil. These cannabinoids need to be harvested from the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowering buds rather than the seeds.
Whenever you buy CBD oil, make sure that you are checking the label to learn whether or not it is actually what it says it is, rather than some filler substances or just hemp seed oil. If it is hemp seed oil, feel free to use it to cook with or as a nutritional addictive, but don’t think that it will have the same medicinal properties.
Final Thoughts on CBD in Florida
Despite all the ingredients that might make seem Florida the perfect place for marijuana, it is still technically illegal to possess or sell it for any reason other than the outlined medical uses. This is made even more difficult by the fact that you need to possess a coveted Medical Marijuana card, something that most physicians are extremely reluctant to hand out.
However, as long as you know where to look there are ways to get around these problems. You can either buy CBD oil from local retail stores or order it online from a retailer that ships across state borders. If you do decide to buy CBD oil from another state without a Medical Marijuana card, just make sure you remember that you are, technically, breaking the law. Though the state government has an official position of not prosecuting anyone in possession of marijuana oil that is less than 0.5% THC, it is still true that you are putting yourself at risk.
By far the best thing you can do is try to find a sympathetic doctor that is willing to recommend a marijuana or CBD oil prescription. Though you can still buy it from retail stores, just remember that their low dose is going to produce a limited medicinal effect on your body, depending on what kind of conditions you are trying to treat with CBD oil.
The situation in Florida is ultimately pretty confusing, but at least it is possible to get your hands on CBD oil if you are so inclined; in other states, you might not be so lucky.