Equity Project State Briefing
Is Cannabis Legal in Florida?
Cannabis in Florida is only legal for medical purposes.
Date of Legalization
In 2014, the Florida Legislature passed the Compassionate Use Act legalizing medical marijuana. The Governor of Florida signed an update to the state’s medical marijuana laws on June 23, 2017, in the form of Senate Bill .8-A, Medical Use of Marijuana. This bill replaced large portions of the existing Compassionate Use Act and was primarily codified within Florida Statutes Section 381.986. Department regulations governing Medical Marjiuana Treatment Centers (MMTC) sit within Florida Administrative Code Sec. 64-4.001 to Sec. 64-4.210. There is currently no formalized social equity program.
Other Licensing Provisions
- License Caps:
Florida is a limited license state and has licensing caps based on the state’s medical marijuana patient population. Florida was initially permitted to distribute 17 licenses, however, Florida may distribute an extra four medical marijuana treatment center licenses for each additional 100, 000 active medical patients. Additionally, local municipalities may opt out of participating in the market.
Application Selection Process
- Selection System:
Florida distributes medical cannabis licenses through a merit system.
Felony Disqualification on Ownership
- Ownership Exclusion for Felony Convictions:
- Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:
See below – same as employee criminal records
Employee Criminal Records
- Conviction Restrictions for Employees:
- Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:
Florida Statute § 381.986 subsection (9) “Background Screening” in combination with Florida Administrative Code § 64-4.208 MMTC Background Screening requires employees, managers and owners of Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to pass a level 2 background check. Disqualifying convictions are specifically listed within Florida Statute § 435.04, subsection 2-4 and Chapter 837 (perjury), 895 (racketeering), and 896 (money laundering). Notably, drug and paraphernalia related convictions, including cannabis convictions listed in Chapter 893, are a disqualifier if the offense was a felony or involved a minor (Chapter 893; Section 817.563, relating to fraudulent sale of controlled substances.).
Availability of Expungements
Florida law does not have any criminal justice reform provisions benefiting communities impacted by cannabis prohibition. There are currently no vehicles for individuals to expunge their cannabis related conviction. Individuals with felony cannabis convictions are prohibited from employment, management or ownership within the medical cannabis industry. There are still statewide criminal penalties for possession and sale of cannabis -with possession of just an ounce being a felony offense punishable by up to five years of incarceration. (Though some municipalities have given law enforcement discretion to essentially decriminalize possession of less than 20 gram and implement civil penalties instead.).
Social Equity Definition / Criteria
Florida does not offer a state social equity program to benefit medical cannabis licensees who have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition.
Social Equity Provisions
Florida does not have an informal social equity program that would fit MCBA standards. However, Florida currently has three provisions that arguably are aimed to provide for some type of cannabis industry equity. These provisions include:
(1) Reserving one of the ten licenses, that were supposed to be available in 2017, for a Black farmer who is a class member of Pigford v. Glickman. (The Pigford settlement addressed racial discrimination in farm lending during the 1980s and 1990s.) This theoretical license holder would be exempt from the requirement of having to be registered to do business in the state for the five consecutive years before submitting the licensing application. However, the cost associated with this license type is double that of a general applicant.
(2) Rrequiring applicants to have strong diversity plans. (notably, no further guidance is given within the regulations);
(3) Rrequiring applicants’ management, ownership, and employment to reflect an involvement of minorities and veterans. Applicant’s seeking to renew their license, which occurs biennially, must show the effectiveness of their diversity plan by reporting the following: representation of and recruitment efforts to employ minorities and veterans as well as a record of contracts for services with minority business and veteran businesses.
Fee Waivers and Reductions
Florida does not offer fee waivers or reductions to support medical cannabis licensees who have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition.
Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees
There are no resources derived from cannabis related revenue allocated specifically to improve the quality of life for communities impacted by the War on Drugs. Florida law mandates that $10 of every identification card fee (medical patient’s card) be allocated to FAMU’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative. The initiative has the purpose of educating minorities about marijuana for medical use and the impact of the unlawful use of marijuana on minority communities. However, these funds were withheld until late 2019.
License Priorities and Set Asides
Florida does not offer state-level licensing priority or set-asides to support medical cannabis licensees who have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition. Florida does reserve one license for a Black farmer who is a class member of the state’s Pigford v. Glickman settlement.