Florida Medical Marijuana Laws - the Good and the Bad
The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been controversial for a long time but finally Florida recognized that it had to change its laws in relation to this use of the drug. This without a doubt made Florida patients happy as they can now legally obtain it to help relieve the pain from a chronic medical condition. Unfortunately, with the good there is some bad to contend with and that is the state has become involved in keeping a registry of patients who use medical marijuana. If this data happened to be used by the police what rights do you have as a medical marijuana patient?
In Florida, who is eligible to source medical marijuana?
To qualify as a medical marijuana patient, there are certain medical conditions that are recognized by Florida’s MMJ program. Florida’s Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) holds a list of ailments that are eligible for medical marijuana. These are as follows: • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) • Parkinson’s disease • multiple sclerosis (MS) • HIV/AIDS • glaucoma • epilepsy • Crohn’s disease • cancer • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) In addition, chronic nonmalignant pain, caused by a medical condition that qualifies or originates from a medical condition, and is still present beyond the usual course for that medical condition, and a terminal medical condition as diagnosed by a doctor but not the one who was responsible for issuing the physician certificate in the first place.
How to qualify for medical marijuana
To legally obtain medical marijuana in Florida, the requirement is to get a certificate from an approved doctor and then register. Medical marijuana is not a product that can be paid for by an insurer so the recipient needs to pay all costs associated with its purchase. This includes the examination by a doctor, the registration card and the cost of marijuana itself. If someone falsely claims to have a qualifying medical condition in order to get medical marijuana and s/he is found out the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor. Also, if a patient is charged with a criminal offense for a marijuana crime his/her name is taken off the registry.
Confidentiality and the medical marijuana patient registry
The problem arises regarding confidentiality once a medical marijuana patient appears on the registry. Generally speaking, a patient’s medical records are confidential and cannot be accessed at will by law enforcers. This doesn’t apply to Florida’s medical marijuana registry. This is because according to Florida statute 381.987, F.S. the OMMU permits access by law enforcers to confidential information found on the Medical Marijuana Use Registry when they are investigating a violation of law in relation to marijuana when the person in question claims an exception under s. 381.986, F.S. somebody who deliberately violates this section of the statute commits a third degree felony which attracts severe penalties in Florida. One key time when a law enforcer may check the registry is when someone has been caught with marijuana but claims s/he is on the registry. If a check indicates this person hasn’t told the truth then a charge could be laid. However, patients do have some privacy as the law enforcer can only access certain information like name, date of birth, contact details and photo but not the patient’s diagnosis.
Carry your medical marijuana patient registration card at all times
Protecting oneself as a medical marijuana patient is possible and that is by carrying the registration card at all times so if apprehended while driving and caught carrying medical marijuana there is the proof available to prove one’s status. If you, or your caregiver, fail to show the marijuana use registration card when requested to do so by a law enforcer, you could be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. If you are under the influence of medical marijuana while driving this is illegal and could result in removal of your name from the register. Also, if you are stopped for an alleged driving offense and your car smells of marijuana legally a search of your vehicle can be conducted.
Despite the new medical marijuana laws in Florida, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance in the state and at the federal level.
If you have been accused of illegally possessing marijuana or you think your patient rights as a medical marijuana user have been violated you will need a good defense attorney to represent you in court. Call Albert Quirantes Esq., a renowned Miami criminal defense attorney, at 305-644-1800.
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