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Medical Marijuana in the Sunshine State: What Employers Doing Business in Florida Need to Know

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Aug 4, 2022 – For nearly half a century, “marijuana” has been classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Although cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, a total of 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have successfully enacted medical marijuana programs, 19 states have recreational marijuana programs, and 23 states have legal cannabis programs. fully decriminalized.

Among them, Florida enacted the Medical Use of Marijuana Act in 2017. It is codified in Florida law, which, among other things, enforces rules governing the state’s public health system and making medical marijuana available to eligible state citizens. As of 2022, approximately 3% of Florida’s population is recorded on the state’s medical marijuana registry.

History of Cannabis Legislation in Florida

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Florida’s journey to provide patient access to medical marijuana began when the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (also known as the “Charlotte’s Web Act” or “Law”) was enacted. The law stipulated that patients with terminal cancer or epilepsy could consume low-THC cannabis without penalty.

To administer the medicinal cannabis program, the Florida Department of Health established the Compassionate Use Office and Compassionate Use Registry to serve as an online database for patients and treatment providers to register. However, many of the law’s supporters found its language too restrictive and minimized access to medical marijuana.

To expand the reach of the law, the Florida Medical Marijuana Initiative (Amendment 2) was proposed to expand the access provided by the law. After failing to become law in 2014, the Second Amendment to the Florida Constitution became part of the Florida Constitution on January 3, 2017, allowing persons diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, or other “debilitating medical conditions.” to expand access to medical marijuana. Medical Condition … Physicians believe that the medical use of marijuana likely outweighs the patient’s potential health risks.”

The Florida legislature then passed a law titled “Medical Use of Marijuana.” In addition, the Florida Department of Health enforces the rules and regulations of the law and maintains a Medical Marijuana Use Registry (MMU) (previously called the “Compassionate Use Registry”) by providing medical established the Marijuana Use Authority (OMMU).

In addition, OMMU provides Florida businesses with medical marijuana cultivation, processing, and distribution to qualified patients and accredited marijuana testing laboratories to ensure public health and safety related to marijuana use. is allowed.

Medical Marijuana Laws in Florida

Florida’s medical marijuana law specifically provides that people suffering from the following eligible medical conditions may obtain physician certification for the medical use of marijuana: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and PTSD. , ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS, ‘their same or equivalent condition’, prescribing physician-diagnosed end-of-life conditions, and chronic non-malignant pain.

Florida’s medical marijuana law, which amended a previously enacted Charlotte Web law, removes the previous 90-day waiting period to obtain pharmaceuticals and eliminates THC that may be in medical marijuana products. does not limit the maximum concentration of

By law, Florida residents must be at least 18 years old to obtain a medical marijuana card. A person under the age of 18 may use cannabis through a parent or legal guardian who has been assigned as a caregiver or provided written consent to her OMMU. Additionally, minors cannot smoke marijuana unless they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or have a referral from a pediatrician.

Currently, more than 730,000 patients have obtained medical marijuana cards in Florida and are enrolled in MMU. Additionally, approximately 2,401 physicians are registered to prescribe medical marijuana throughout Florida. By law, patients can legally purchase cannabis only through regulated and established medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) licensed through OMMU.

Interestingly, the law specifically states that it “does not create a cause of action against an employer for unfair dismissal or discrimination.” Additionally, and importantly, the Florida legislature chose to clarify that this law “does not limit an employer’s ability to establish, maintain, or implement a drug-free workplace program or policy.” did.

Workplace impact

A review of Florida’s medical marijuana law reveals that the Florida Legislature has addressed several employment issues that employers may face as more and more Floridians continue to enroll in MMUs. became.

Ultimately, an “employer” cannot be defined, but the legislature has clarified that employers do not have to respond to employees using medical marijuana at work. Additionally, the law expressly prohibits medical marijuana patients from using cannabis in the workplace without the employer’s express permission. The law does not say whether it must be adapted for outside or non-business use.

Florida laws that provide workplace protections, such as the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) and the Florida Drug-Free Workplace Act, do not currently specifically address medical marijuana use by employees. . However, the medical marijuana law’s clear language does not allow employees who seek discrimination or unfair dismissal claims related to medical marijuana use to “carve out” under the FCRA or drug-free workplace laws. ” establishes that there are no exceptions.

Because Florida’s civil rights and drug-free workplace laws parallel federal law and federal construed case law, employers are most likely to be able to avoid medical marijuana use in the workplace. It will be expensive. under CSA.

However, Florida employers should be aware of federal laws regarding the legalization of marijuana. On July 25, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill titled the Cannabis Control and Opportunity Act that would decriminalize marijuana and allow states to enact their own cannabis-related laws. . This bill could affect CSA’s current classification of marijuana as an illegal Schedule I substance, which in turn could affect the rights of employees with disabilities under the Florida Medical Marijuana Act. there is.


Florida’s medical marijuana law sought to provide guidance to Florida employers. However, unless the CSA is amended to exclude marijuana as a Schedule I drug and an illegal drug, employers are not required to respond to employees who attempt to consume medical marijuana on or off work. Under current state and federal regulations, Florida employers are not required to permit their employees to possess or use medical marijuana in Florida.

Abby E. Alexander and Christopher J. Tellner are regular contributors as columnists on Reuters Legal’s News and Westlaw’s Today Healthcare Lawsuits.

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Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect Reuters News’ commitment to integrity, independence and freedom from bias under its Trust Principles. Westlaw Today is owned by Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.

Abby E. Alexander

Abbye E. Alexander is a partner in Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck’s Orlando office and co-chairs the company’s Health Care & Managed Care Practice Group. Her work focuses on issues affecting national and local businesses, including long-term care facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, medical professionals such as physicians, organizations and facilities. She can be reached at her

Christopher J. Terner

Christopher J. Tellner is Partner and Co-Chair of Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck’s Orlando’s Health Care & Managed Care Practice Group. He is based in Pennsylvania. He specializes in professional liability defense, including defense of medical facilities and practitioners. Before he entered the legal profession, he worked as a health care professional. His contact is he

Taliyah Van Emden

Talya Van Embden is an associate attorney in Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck’s Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, office and a member of the firm’s Healthcare & Managed Care Practice Group. She focuses on labor and employment, general liability, health care and managed care defense. Her contact is her