Frequently Asked Questions about medical marijuana

Fla. Supreme Court approves medical marijuana initiative for ballot

A Florida measure that would allow the use of medical marijuana cleared its final hurdle on Monday and will be on the November ballot.

Local 6 has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answered them. All of the information about the proposed Florida amendment was found here.

Q. If passed, who would be eligible to use medical marijuana?
A. A physician must diagnose the user with a debilitating medical condition, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's, Parkinson's, MS, or other conditions the physician believes medical marijuana "would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." The user must register for an ID card with the FL Department of Health.

Q. Does a physician write a prescription for marijuana?
A. No. Under federal law, a physician is not allowed to write a prescription for marijuana. Instead, the physician (who must register with the Department of Health) can write a "physician certification" stating that the patient suffers from a
debilitating medical condition and that the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks. The document must also include how long the physician recommends use. The physician must conduct a physical examination and full assessment of the patient's
medical history before issuing a "physician certification."

Q. Can a caregiver obtain medical marijuana for another patient?
A. Yes. After a personal caregiver (21 and over) obtains an ID card from the Department of Health, they may assist up to 5 patients at a time. An employee of a medical facility or hospice provider can serve more than 5.

Q. How old must a patient be to use medical marijuana?
A. The proposed amendment does not specify age restrictions. In California, a minor can apply as both a patient and a caregiver.

Q. If passed, where can medical marijuana be grown and sold? Can individuals grow their own?
A. Details are vague. The proposed amendment allows for "Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers", which are entities that acquire, cultivate, process, transport, sell, dispense, or administer medical marijuana. MMTC's must be registered through the Department of Health, which would be required to establish MMTC regulations (including registration procedures and standards for security, recordkeeping, testing, labeling, inspecting, and safety). A MMTC is not required to be a pharmacy.

Q. If passed, how much medical marijuana can be purchased at one time?
A. Undetermined. The Department of Health must define an amount presumed to be an adequate supply. In California, users are generally allowed to possess 8 oz. of marijuana, although doctors and local governments can raise the limits.

Q. How much will it cost?
A. Prices vary by state and type of marijuana, generally $150-500 an ounce.

Q. If it is passed, will medical marijuana be taxed?
A. Possibly. An agriculture tax exemption may exist if a grower sells directly to a user, but if marijuana is sold through a 3rd party retailer, it may be taxable. Marijuana is not tax-exempt as a prescription, since physicians are not allowed to
prescribe marijuana under federal law. Florida's Dept. of Business Regulation and Department of Revenue would have to determine if medical marijuana falls under the "common household remedies" tax exemption which covers many over-the-counter drugs. It is undetermined whether marijuana would be tax-exempt if turned into a food product.
The legislature could also determine tax exemptions. Marijuana growers may be able to claim some agriculture tax exemptions, if it is passed.

Q. Will health insurance pay for medical marijuana?
A. Currently no insurance providers cover marijuana. The proposed amendment does not require insurance companies or government agencies to reimburse expenses.

Q. Can medical marijuana be smoked anywhere the patient wants?
A. No. The proposed amendment does require accommodations for use in schools, employment, or public places. The amendment also does not change DUI laws.

Q. How much will the proposed amendment cost the state if passed?
A. Unknown. The Department of Health estimates it will cost the agency $1.1 million each year to regulate medical marijuana, although some of that may be offset by user and industry fees. Law enforcement agencies expect to incur additional,
undetermined costs for enforcement.

Q. Will medical marijuana use in Florida violate federal law if passed?
A. Technically, yes. The proposed amendment does not give immunity under federal drug laws. However, the U.S. Attorney General has indicated the federal government will not prosecute medical marijuana users in states where it is legal.

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