Is Vaping Marijuana Legal in Florida?
Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on October 5, 2018
Medical marijuana remains a complicated topic in Florida. As you probably know, voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2016 to authorize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. But this doesn’t mean you can simply roll your own joint and smoke it because you think you have glaucoma. The Florida legislature adopted extensive regulations to implement the voters’ decision. Among other things, these rules specifically exclude smoking marijuana from the definition of “medical use.” Instead, individuals with a qualifying medical condition, and who receive a Medical Cannabis Card from a doctor licensed to issue one, can obtain what is known as low-THC cannabis, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.
Vaping vs. Smoking
So if you can’t smoke marijuana, how can you medically ingest low-THC cannabis? One approved method is vaping. But what exactly is vaping?
When you smoke marijuana, you are burning the dried plant material at high temperatures to create smoke that you then inhale. Although many people think smoking pot is safer than, say, tobacco-based cigarettes, the truth is that smoking any plant-based substance releases thousands of chemical compounds, many of which are toxic to the human body.
In contrast, vaping involves using an electronic device–a vaporizer–to heat the plant material (often in liquid form) at a much lower temperature. The idea is to convert the underlying material into water vapor rather than smoke. If done correctly, this water vapor contains a higher concentration of the desired chemical–in the case of medical marijuana, THC–without producing the toxic residue associated with smoking.
Keep in mind, however, that while vaping may be safer than smoking, when it comes to marijuana or THC-based products, it is only legal in Florida for medical purposes. “Recreational” vaping of cannabis is still illegal. That doesn’t mean it’s not occurring. To the contrary, according to a recent CNN report, public health researchers have found cannabis vaping has become popular among some middle school and high school students. CNN cited a survey that found 1 in 11 students–12.4 percent of high schoolers and 4.5 percent of middle schoolers–had vaped marijuana at some point. One reason marijuana vaping has become more popular is that it is difficult for parents and teachers to know whether the liquid inside a vaporizer is based on nicotine or cannabis.
Will It Soon Be Legal to Smoke Medical Marijuana?
The legal issues surrounding medical marijuana are only going to grow more complex as the State of Florida continues to implement its regulations. Indeed, the Florida Department of Health is currently appealing a circuit court decision from Leon County that struck down the state’s ban on smoking medical marijuana. If that ruling is affirmed by the First District Court of Appeal, it could make vaping a less-attractive option for patients who would rather smoke a joint.
In the meantime, if you have been charged with a drug crime related to the illegal possession or use of marijuana and need assistance from an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact Moses & Rooth right away by calling (407) 377-0150.