Cannabis for medicinal use is legal in Florida, but recreational cannabis is not at the time of writing. In fact, Florida currently has some of the toughest anti-cannabis legislation in the USA. Despite its historic conservatism against weed, there is evidence that things are starting to move forward. There has been considerable political pressure on the federal government to legalise the use of weed, but so far the bills have been unsuccessful. The penalties for selling weed or being found in possession of cannabis are severe, and many offences lead to prison sentences.
Is it legal to grow cannabis in Florida?
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.
It’s clear that the sentencing structure is designed to penalise industrial cultivators as being found in possession of 10,000 plants could result in 30 years’ prison and a $50,000 fine. And any cannabis cultivation found within 1,000 feet of a park, educational institution, or other designated area can carry a 15-year jail sentence and a $ 10,000 fine. These are hefty sums, so it’s clear that growing your own weed is not something to be taken lightly.
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.
Can cannabis seeds be shipped to Florida?
You may be surprised to learn that cannabis seeds are legal in Florida and can be easily bought and sold. The law is more unclear regarding their dispatch from one state to another, and reports indicate that they are occasionally detained at customs.
Medicinal cannabis in Florida
Although medical cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, Florida legalised it in 2016. It was first approved by the Florida Senate in 2014, with 36 to three votes for children with epilepsy to be treated with medical cannabis.
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 honour of the girl. A cannabis strain with a high CBD content is also named after her (Charlotte’s Web).
However, access to medicinal cannabis remains strictly controlled. No one in Florida can access marijuana for medicinal purposes unless they have first seen a doctor and been granted access to an MMJ card, which needs to be renewed every seven months. All this hassle means that it is not surprising that many Floridians are starting to wonder if it is worth growing their own weed at home.
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.
Related article: Growing weed in the woods
Will it be legal to grow marijuana in Florida?
A massive campaign to secure a referendum to legalise 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.
Put simply; it is unlikely for Floridians to ever legally grow their own cannabis as this would not be in the interest of giant pharmaceutical companies. MedMen, part of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association, sent a controversial memo to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in which the company said that local culture encouraged illegal sales and endangered cannabis users by making monitoring of pesticide content difficult. The company currently has a medical cannabis dispensary in West Palm Beach, Florida, and a drug delivery service in Orlando. The company’s website says it plans to create 12 new outlets in the state.