Physicians in Florida may recommend a patient living with debilitating and painful illnesses for a medical marijuana card. The process has a few steps, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when planning how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida.
Do You Qualify?
The first step in getting your medical marijuana card is determining if you qualify for one. Florida’s medical marijuana laws seek to grant access to the drug to those suffering from painful and debilitating chronic health conditions. You must have a diagnosis that meets the state’s requirements for your medical provider to refer you for a card. Here are some of the qualifying conditions:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Multiple sclerosis or similar condition
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- HIV or AIDS
- Crohn’s disease
- Any terminal condition
- Chronic pain caused by a qualifying condition
While these conditions are specifically spelled out in Florida law, doctors do have some leeway in considering other medical conditions if the patient might significantly benefit from medical marijuana. The doctor can evaluate the current state of your health, your pain level, and your symptoms to determine if the potential benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the health risks. Some of the diagnoses that physicians consider for medical marijuana cards are ADHD, chronic pain, dementia, lupus, and hepatitis C, among many others.
In addition to the medical diagnosis, you must be a permanent or seasonal resident of Florida. If you live in the state only part-time, as many snowbirds do, you must reside here at least 31 consecutive days each year, own a temporary home in Florida, and be registered to vote or pay income taxes in another state. You cannot qualify as a temporary resident unless you visit your home here at least once every calendar year.
Does Your Healthcare Provider Qualify?
The next step in getting a Florida medical marijuana card involves an evaluation by a physician who can certify that you and your health condition qualify. Not every doctor in Florida can provide this service.
- Your provider cannot own a dispensary or work with one due to the conflict of interest this presents.
- The doctor must also complete specific training related to medical marijuana cards and hold the state-mandated license.
If the patient is under 18, a second physician must agree with the first that the person qualifies for medical marijuana.
Suppose you are seeing a physician other than your primary care physician for a medical marijuana evaluation. In that case, you will need to get copies of your medical records and bring them with you to your appointment. You’ll also need proof that you are a permanent or seasonal Florida resident and a form of photo identification. At Nature’s Green House, we can help you with this step if you need it.
What Happens After My Physician Recommends Medical Marijuana for Me?
Once the physician agrees that you qualify for medical marijuana, your physician enters your information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. The next step is for you or your caregiver to apply for your card. You can complete the application online or through the mail.
- The application may require a photo, similar to the one you need for your passport.
- You’ll also need proof of residence, such as a Florida driver’s license. A utility bill from the last two months is another option. It must be up to date, though, because the address on the proof is the one that goes into the registry system. The evidence must be current and not expired.
- If you are applying as the parent or guardian of a minor, you will need to submit the child’s birth certificate.
- Finally, you have to pay an application fee. Once you submit everything, approval can take up to 10 business days. Once you’re approved, you’ll receive a temporary card via email to use until your regular card arrives in the mail.
Some patients are nervous about having their very private medical information entered into a government database. However, the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry is secure and HIPAA-compliant. Only physicians can add people to the registry.
Qualifying patients and their caregivers can purchase medical marijuana using the state-issued card. If the patient is under the age of 18, the parent or guardian makes the minor’s application to receive the card. Senior citizens with a qualifying condition may also have a direct caregiver, such as a relative, apply for the card. Caregivers must register as such by completing an application with the OMMU. This process requires bi-annual training to pass a caregivers’ quiz. Caregivers must also submit a Florida driver’s license or another form of identification. Suppose you care for an adult medical marijuana user. In that case, you must submit a notarized written consent from the patient, a power of attorney document, or a notarized Health Care Surrogate Form.
Once you have your medical marijuana card, you must attend your regularly scheduled follow-up visits every seven months with your healthcare provider to keep it. Patients must reapply and pay an application fee every year to renew their cards. You must reapply at least 45 days before the expiration date on the front of the card.
Have You Identified an MMTC?
Once you have your card, you can choose any dispensary in the state. In Florida, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) oversees the process of getting your card, which physicians can issue them, and where you can get the treatments once approved. Only Licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs) can dispense medical marijuana. These centers must follow strict guidelines for legal compliance but, more importantly, for the safety of the patients. You will only be able to purchase up to a 70-day allotment of products at one time.
An MMTC operating in Florida needs three different permits.
- A cultivation authorization allows the clinic to grow medical marijuana.
- A processing authorization enables the center to transform the plants into useful products.
- A dispensing authorization enables the MMTC to dispense the products.
Each MMTC sends certain staff members through special training to pass the state certification test for licensure for each service category.
Your doctors and their staff can help you find an MMTC and understand the variety of products available. These professionals can also help you know how much you can purchase, which products will best treat your symptoms, and the proper dosage.
Where Can I Learn More?
If you are new to medical marijuana in Florida, you probably have many questions about how the application process and dispensary system works. At Nature’s Green House, our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you understand the steps and get your questions answered. We can also help you explore our wide range of CBD options. We’re your best choice in all of Florida for getting your medical evaluation and applications completed. Contact us today to schedule your appointment with a qualified physician.
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