Although the use of marijuana for medical purposes is now legal in Florida, there are still a lot of legal matters to consider in the production and even purchase of the product in the state. Florida laws continue to be strict when it comes to the manufacture of cannabis, leading many to ask if it’s legal or safe to grow their own cannabis.
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The short answer is no. This article aims to discuss this further, along with a few key pieces of information surrounding this topic.
What the Law Says
As mentioned earlier, growing marijuana, whether for personal or commercial use, is mostly illegal in Florida. According to cultivation laws, it is considered a 3rd-degree felony and violators can be given a maximum prison sentence of five years along with a maximum of $5000 fine.
Those found in possession of more than 25 cannabis plants, or what can be considered as a grow house, it becomes a 2nd-degree felony and those found guilty can be sentenced to up to 15 years of prison.
If minors are living in the location where these plants are being grown, the charge may escalate to a 1st-degree felony.
Those who have been convicted of growing cannabis in Florida will also have their driver’s license revoked for up to a year.
What Cultivation Entails
According to Section 893.13(1)(a) of Florida Law, cultivation of marijuana is defined as the possession of the controlled substance with the intent of manufacturing it or actually already in the process of manufacturing it.
The section goes on to define manufacturing as producing, packing, preparing, propagating, cultivating, compounding, converting, labeling, relabeling, processing, or growing marijuana. This also applies to whether the party in question does the manufacturing directly or indirectly.
What Can be Done
Those who want to make it a business to grow marijuana to supply dispensaries do have the option of getting a license from the state’s Department of Health, but there are also issues surrounding that.
There have only been 22 issued licenses in Florida for growing medical marijuana since 2016. And only around half of them are actively operating. Other license holders have opted to sell their licenses. In fact, according to the South Florida Business Journal, Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami sold their business in the state for $67 million in 2019. Since licenses are extremely scarce, they have also become very valuable.
There is also the added consideration of vertical integration. According to state regulations, those who want a license to grow or sell marijuana in Florida need to have everything done within their organization. This means a business can’t just sell or grow these plants; it needs to handle every single aspect of the business. It needs to grow, process, test, and sell the product without going through subcontractors or middlemen. This makes the bar for entry in the industry very high.
Some have argued that they should be able to grow medical marijuana if it’s just for personal use. In 2019, a 77-year-old man was allowed by a Leon County Circuit Judge to grow his own marijuana for medical purposes because the particular type he needed was not available in state dispensaries. However, this ruling was later challenged by the Department of Health.
What is Being Done
On a national level, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement or MORE Act, a bill that essentially aims to decriminalize marijuana, is on its way through the US Senate. If this becomes law, it may cause changes in Florida’s state laws.
According to the Miami Herald, marijuana in Florida is potentially a billion-dollar industry. Even now, when there are strict rules governing cannabis use in the state, there are still around 450,000 patients.
Although progress is arguably slow in terms of marijuana use in Florida, there is hope. Soon, people may be able to grow their own cannabis plants, however, at least for now, it’s best to err on the side of caution.