A defense of medical necessity has been established in Florida case law, however, as legislators have yet to enact a medical marijuana law, those suffering from a variety of serious medical conditions risk arrest and jail for using cannabis. In fact, Florida has the harshest marijuana penalties in the country.

Cases that determined that Medical Necessity is an allowable defense included: State vs Musikka, State vs Jenks, and State vs Sowell. In State vs Baranoff, a Medical Necessity Distribution defense was established allowing patients in need access to their medicine. Despite these precedents, Florida cannabis penalties remain ruthless:

Marijuana Related Penalties in Florida

  • Possession of 25 or more plants (formerly 300 plants) is prima facie evidence of intent to sell or distribute, and is a second degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a $10,000 fine
  • Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Possession of greater than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
  • The delivery of 20 grams or less of marijuana for no consideration is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Sale, delivery or cultivation of any other amount up to 25 lbs is a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
  • Sale, delivery or cultivation of greater than 25 pounds is considered trafficking, and all trafficking offenses have mandatory minimum sentences:
    • For less than 2,000 pounds or less than 2,000 plants, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and a fine of $25,000
    • For less than 10,000 pounds or less than 10,000 plants there is a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a fine of $50,000
    • For 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants or greater, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years in prison and a fine of $200,000
  • Any sale or delivery occurring within 1,000 feet of a school, college, public park, public housing, daycare center, or church is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000
  • The possession of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
  • Conviction of a drug related offense also requires suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for at least six months but not longer than two years.

The Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative petition – the right to marijuana for treatment of certain medical diseases and conditions – failed to appear on the November 2 ballot for 2010. The petition called for:

A proposed amendment designed to create a new Article I, Section 28 (“Right to Marijuana for Treatment Purposes”) of the Florida Constitution so as to permit the cultivation, purchase, possession and use of marijuana to treat Alzheimer’s, Cachexia, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Chronic Nervous System Disorders, Crohn’s Disease, Epilepsy and other seizure disorders, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, diseases causing muscle spasticity, or other diseases and conditions when recommended by a physician.

However, as Florida has a rolling program, activists continue to collect signatures: 676,811 valid signatures are needed by January 2, 2012 and verified signatures currently stand at 24,186 – so there is some way to go. To support the cause, visit People United for Medical Marijuana Florida (PUFFM) and follow the on-screen directions.


Author Dianne Morgan

More posts by Dianne Morgan

Join the discussion 31 Comments

  • Yolanda W says:

    I have bipolar and suffer from depression but I stay in Alabama what do I need to do to get help

  • Jim Dandy says:

    The best thing about Fla is you can still leave it. Didn’t that arrogant sob in fla legislature say that if we need medical marijuana we should leave?
    Well that’s exactly what we’re doing, business, home, property, all go bye bye . We won’t send a post card from san diego.
    Amazing how where all the really smart people are ( silicon valley), the smart and rich ( all over California ) cannabis is at least legal for medicinal use while in the places where the dumb prevail, where a “good job” means working in a wall mart, the south in general, fla specifically, it’s illegal? Then this dumbass lawyer, with the thick drawl says ” we don’t want California we want it highly regulated” and you people not only fall for this clown but send him support? You WISH you could have California with the worlds headquarters for high tech, entertainment, and other fields lead the world and pay accordingly. Jeez what’s wrong with you people in florida?
    Funny how that works.

    • Peggy says:

      I have terminally cancer it’s the only way I can eat smoking marijuana keeps me from being sick to my stomach

  • Patrick Harris says:

    it would be a life changer for me to have a card- its the only thing that helps me sleep. Right now I have to rely on alcohol which is totally bad for my health, and I dont even like it. Please please please legalize it already!!

    If anyone knows how I can help the process of legalization please let me know!!

  • Lani Williams says:

    I too have chronic pain and disabled because of a fall I had, down some stairs, while at work. Codeine makes me itch all the time, but that’s my only option at this time. My personal life is non-existent. Please keep me informed on any new changes going on in Florida so that I can get involved

    Thank you,
    Lani Williams

  • Not so jolly Rodgers says:

    Being a native of the great state of Florida, I fine that the powers that controle the state are still living in the 1930’s.

    I have numerous Dx that could be treated with medical marijuana. I made the mistake of growing my own to eliminate the chance of getting arrested while trying to obtain my medicine. Now I am a 53 years old with a felony. I hate to say it but as soon I pay my fines and complete my probation moving is the only option I have.

    I served my country, I served the state, and I provide for my family.
    The will of others should not contole my will or the will of those needing their medication.

    One question comes to mind. How did this country become the controler of the people?

    The medication I take from the Veterans Administration makes a zombie most of the day and really does very little to releave my symptoms. I was not smoking my medicine before my bust (made butter and was eating on toast and other snakes) and tried to explain that to the judge. He did take it in consider and made it a little easier on me but the fact is my rights have been violated as well as millions of other Americains. (I went 40 years before I got cought)

    This prohibition must stop!
    It is okay to smoke tobacco and that is one of the biggest killers in America, as well as costing the tax payer 250 Billion a year. But growing my own medicine makes me a criminal.

    In closing the time has come to stand up and take charge like so many have in other states. Tell the United States Congress, the President and the United States Supreme Court we are the people. We are America too. Not stoners, not pot-heads, but citizens. Not just for me but for the millions who suffer every day and the ones taking the chance to obtain medicine that really works.

  • Cindy says:

    I am in serious health problem. I cant take pain meds. they mess you up too much and get you depressed. Dx with Lupus 6 yrs ago. chronic migraines. Migraines were due to lesions all over my brain that led to a massive stroke. then had another small stroke and smashed my car. Dont worry I no longer drive.
    After 1st stroke it took a week for the swelling in my brain to go down. did the mri and thats when they saw all the lesions. did extra test to confirm what they thought. I have had M.S. for some time. the dr’s org. told me I had fibromyalgia and something told me they were wrong, but they were the dr.
    I smoke when I can get it. live in small old town. everyone is old. In a walker or wheel chair. arms and legs spasm’s. muscles in legs feel like charlie horses and the muscles are being ripped apart from my bones.
    Can you give me any advice at all. Hope to hear from you soon. Cindy

    • Cindy says:

      Sorry, stoke messed my memory. I too live in the sunny state of Florida. Please Help

    • Not so jolly Rodgers says:

      I understand and it is messed up that we cannot obtain medicine legally in this state that works. Keep your head up and stay possitive. If you would like to chat sometime email me at jrodgers59@yahoo.com., that goes for anyone that reads this reply

  • Marlin B. Davis says:

    As it says Florida does have serious strict laws against marijuana, if you are intrested in helping take these horrible laws against pot, email me at davismarlin49@yahoo.com
    I’m a standard member of norml & have been trying to start a regional chapter here in st.Petersburg. vote Ron Paul.

    • Donna says:

      I have had fibromyalgia, severe spinal stenosis, RLS, and chronic fatigue for years. I was told that there is now a medical marijuana pill available that does not get you high. But I live in Florida.
      Can you give me any information on this?

  • Robert says:

    I am a exfelon that is on ssi I have degenerative disc disease of the spine and other issues .I would like to spend my once left of my life just high .In pain no jobs out here it would be nice to be medicated with something better than the medications doctors give us much of the medicines we are taking are more harmful than the damage are already suffering from.

  • Artist -53 says:

    Hello,I’m a resident of Florida.I have multi focal refractory seizure disorder,and am on an anti seizure med that is reserved only by law for uncontrollabe epilepsyProblem is,Felbatol causes Lymphoma. I was just diagnosed with a rare form of Lymphoma last week.

    Other problem is chemo can cause seizures.And it looks like I will not be able to take Felbatol any longer.I am allergic to all other anti seizure meds and I’m also allergic to all anti biotics except keflex. This is not good considering I’ll be starting chemo.

    I’m in a catch 22 position. Felbatol has already reduced my weight to 87 pounds and this week I weighed in at 70 pounds.

    Are there any acceptions to Florida’s Med MJ laws?Whereby I can self medicate without spending my remaining days in jail?

    Are there any special

  • michelle says:

    I have MS and will be traveling to Disney on Thursday. We were going to drive but decided to fly last minute. Is there a way to get my meds while I”m there?

    • Jared says:

      The only way to get yours meds here would be to get the illegally. There are no dispensaries in Florida but maybe if you got a note from your doctor, pharmacy could.

  • Cheri says:

    I was a gymnastics instructor & got injured saving a student over 4 years ago.

    I bent my elbow backwards & my boss told me to keep working so for more than 4 months I worked with kids all sizes even bigger & heavier than me with one arm! This pulled my entire right arm up through my neck & down my back totally out & I haven’t been the same.

    These days it’s shown in my MRIs that I have 6 bulding/herniated discs in my neck & back. My hands go numb & even my legs are affected & if I’m not in pain I just can’t feel anything. My doctor says that even if I have surgery a year later I will still end up being back in the same pain & I have to face the facts.

    I was in NJ where marijuana is finally legal but I moved to NC to be with my now husband & thought that they would be legal first & now will be moving to FL & they aren’t going to be. It looks like I’m going to have to go back into hiding but I can’t get my husband into trouble since he’s in the military & my docs in NJ told me to do what I had to when I was there but the military docs won’t say that & I really want to do the right thing but I can’t keep doing this pain killer thing because it’s killing me & not always working anyway.

    What do we do????? If anyone has ideas, I’m with you & I’ll help sign anything but I’m probably llke the rest…in bed & not really living life.

    • Michael says:

      Mrs. Judy, I am sorry to hear of your plight. There are harsh pemalties in Florida and Georgia.

      Have you heard what they say about Florida? “Come on vacation and leave on probation”. lol

      Sorry I digress with humor to keep from crying.

      I have a spinal arthritis bipolar and ADD and some other abreviations that are as incriminating. In answer to your question the answer is on this web site, if you click on:


      Godspeed to you and us all. Amen.

  • Belinda says:

    45 year old registered nurse suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome for 6 years. I have dedicated my life to alleviate the suffering of others, and ended up with an autoimmune disorder that I am convinced was caused by the demands of my profession. I can accept this.

    What I have a hard time accepting and refuse to accept is that it is taking so long for Florida legislators to recognize the value of medical marijuana. I have been self medicating with marijuana for years to alleviate chronic pain after fracturing my neck when a psychiatric patient threw me across the room.

    I can honestly say, that these injuries and conditions from which I suffer now, have at least made me a more compassionate nurse, because I have witnessed the view from the other side of the stethescope.

    The number of people who are currently self medicating with marijuana is staggering. The majority of my ICU patients, regularly self medicate with marijuana while they are at home and a great number of the staff, licensed nurses and doctors also self medicate with marijuana while they are not responsible for patients.

    I also suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome as a result of the neck injuries, which is a painful neuro/vascular condition that can be aggravated from the tension of the muscles in the my neck. This tension constricts the space where the blood vessels and the nerves supply my arms.

    Incredibly painful! Additionally, any activity which requires my arms to be in front of me for any length of time will cause the compression of these nerves and vessels; changing a bandage, driving, crafts, working on the computer, holding my grandchildren, can all aggravate this painful event.

    In these situations, I am likely not able to have my puff and I am fine to deal with such situations, but when I get home, and do not have the distractions of responsibility for another’s safety, I deserve to be able to achieve some level of pain control. On my time, I should be able to enjoy at least some of the things that life has to offer.

    Marijuana helps my muscles to relax. If I were to take a muscle relaxer, I would be unable to function even around the house for many hours. With marijuana, I can take a little puff and relax for about an hour or so. I have been suffering for years now, and still, have managed to stay off of narcotic pain relievers. I credit that to the anti-inflammatory properties of marijuana and the relaxation,and resultant pain control that marijuana offers me.

    I am hopeful that marijuana will be allowed for medicinal purposes eventually. Much has been studied and learned about marijuana, we just need to get past years of prejudice from the ignorant. We are getting closer. If it doesn’t happen, let me thank every American in advance for footing the bill for my very expensive medical care, pharmaceuticals, mobility aids, housing, and expense of prosecution, and incarceration up front.

    Because the fact that it is illegal doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I don’t want the rest of my life to be spent in pain and disability.

  • 1suzyq@safe-mail.net says:

    BEWARE !!!!!! Harvest420@hotmail.com is a scammer !!!!!!!!! reply for details.

  • Adam says:

    My name is Adam Bryan. I am a daily user of medical Marijuana for my Adhd and Bi Polar disorder. I have recently moved from CO to Florida. I have tried literally 50 prescriptions for my diseases in the past, all in which failed to help me. By my therapists recommendation, about a year ago I tried marijuana. I have never done better in my life now that I smoke one marijuana cigarette about an hour before bed. I searched for years for relief and found it.

    Now living in FL, I became aware that there are no laws that allow me to access any marijuana. I am starting to do poorly again and becoming somewhat desperate in my search for my medicine. If your organization could help me, it would be deeply appreciated. My contact information is listed below. Please contact me Asap, as I don’t know what I’m going to do.

    Kind Regards,
    Adam Bryan

  • If you want Marijuana Legalized in Florida for Patients..
    Get active today!!

    Sign the Petition and Volunteer with the Rest of Us Floridians!


  • Judy Carranza says:

    I live in Florida at this time but am moving to Alabama in a few months. What are the laws concerning medical marijuana?


  • Gina says:

    I have been ordering mail order from my sleep disorder for almost a year from harvest-420@hotmail.com mail order is much less sketchy then hitting the street corners.

  • alex says:

    If i could be acctepted i think i know that would be life changig as far as heath probs.

  • alex says:

    i have glaucoma and a bad eaten disorder how can i sign up?

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