In this article, we explore the relevant cannabis laws in Florida relevant to possession, consumption and cultivation.
While cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in Florida, the Sunshine State became the first southern U.S state to legalise the plant in any form when they first introduced medical cannabis back in 2016.
But is it legal to grow cannabis in Florida?
However, several cities including San Diego and Miami have introduced new reforms to apply lesser penalties as the state begins to loosen cannabis laws.
As mentioned, medical use was first legalized in 2016 thanks to a constitutional amendment making Florida the first southern state to adopt proactive measures relating to cannabis law.The initiative was overwhelmingly approved with 71% of the total votes cast and with its introduction, medical marijuana can now be cultivated and dispensed to qualifying patients.
Unfortunately, recreational cannabis use remains illegal in the state of Florida. Possession of up to 20 grams is considered a misdemeanour offence, punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1000, as well as the suspension of one’s driver’s license.
It is illegal to cultivate marijuana in Florida, so if you are tempted to start a grow, you need to be aware of the risk and be very careful. Growing 25 cannabis plants can carry a maximum prison sentence of five years, in conjunction with a $5,000 fine. The greater the number of plants, the higher the penalty; for example, 25 to 300 plants could lead to a jail term of 15 years and a $10,000 fine. 300 and 2,000 cannabis plants, and you could be looking at a maximum jail term of 15 years and a $25,000 fine. It’s worth noting that hash is also illegal in the Sunshine State, as is marijuana concentrate.
The Senate decision was based on the case of a young girl named Charlotte, who used CBD oil to treat her epilepsy. The bill has been dubbed the “Charlotte Web Bill” in honor of the girl. A cannabis strain with a high CBD content is also named after her (Charlotte’s Web).
Is it legal to grow cannabis in Florida?
However, this would be a perilous undertaking unless you are prepared to do a stealth grow in the middle of a remote section of the Everglades. The Floridian police force is well-funded and prepared to spend resources and time on collecting evidence on those suspected of growing weed in their property, using undercover officers, in formats, tapping phone lines and many other tactics.
A massive campaign to secure a referendum to legalize recreational cannabis in Florida was announced in 2019. The project was supported by giant MedMen, one of California’s biggest cannabis companies, so many are hopeful that things will eventually change. The legalisation of recreational cannabis would allow adults 21 years of age and older to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. The proposal failed in 2020, but with strong voter support for legalisation of cannabis, there will likely be other attempts to reform in the coming decade, although it will probably be structured to benefit Big Pharma rather than small scale growers.
Things are starting to change, and many are hopeful that the law in Florida could eventually change to allow people in the state to grow a limited number of plants at home for personal use. However, the situation is currently on hold.
The Senate’s decision was based on the case of a young girl called Charlotte, who was using CBD oil to treat her epilepsy. The bill was nicknamed the ‘Charlotte’s Web bill’ in honour of this girl, and after the high CBD cannabis strain that was named after her too (‘Charlotte’s Web).
If the offender is caught growing 2,000 to 10,000 plants, then the prison sentence is seven to 30 years, with a $50,000 fine. Any cultivation that takes place within 1,000 feet of an educational establishment, park or other specified area can result in a 15-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Medicinal cannabis is legal in Florida, but recreational cannabis, at present, is not. Various representatives have attempted to pass bills to make cannabis use legal, but so far, they have been met with opposition. As such, the penalties for possessing or selling the drug remain severe, with prison sentences in place for even minor offences.
In real terms, the law is far more complex. The Florida Department of Agriculture’s official stance is that it’s not legal to sell hemp or CBD, but Nikki Fried, the Agriculture Commissioner, is currently attempting to push through legislation to bring state law in line with federal law.
If approved, the bill directs Florida’s Department of Agriculture to start drafting the rules for the state’s hemp industry, with regards to safety standards, licencing, and quality control. An advisory council will also be created, providing education to local communities, and explaining how hemp differs from cannabis.
Industrial hemp was legalised at federal level in 2018, under the Farm Bill. In 2019, Florida’s Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill, establishing a framework for the regulation of hemp cultivation in the state.
Since Congress removed hemp from their list of illegal drugs, CBD has been technically legal to use, sell, and buy in Florida. It must come from a licenced grower, and it isn’t allowed to contain more than trace levels of THC (the substance responsible for providing a ‘high’).