Snow to Green: Exploring Florida’s Medical Marijuana Scene for Snowbirds

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Florida, MMJ Laws

Snow to Green: Exploring Florida's Medical Marijuana Scene for Snowbirds

The white sandy beaches and tropical paradise that is Florida attract hundreds of thousands of seniors every year to winter in the Sunshine State. And some seasonal residents may rely on medical marijuana treatment for debilitating symptoms and medical conditions.

If you use medical marijuana and spend part of the year living in Florida, you may be wondering how the laws apply to you. Or whether you can purchase medical marijuana in Florida and legally qualify. In this article, we’ll discuss the important facts a seasonal resident of Florida should know about medical marijuana use.

How Many Snowbirds Travel to Florida?

According to a recent 2023 report, over 800,000 snowbirds flock to Florida to escape the winter weather in their home state. According to, the top destination for snowbirds is Port Charlotte, Florida, which has a cost of living index of 88.9, making it 11% less expensive than the national average.

From condominium apartments to full vacation homes, retirees across America (and some from Canada) fall into an annual migration pattern to the Sunshine State. Interestingly, many snowbirds prefer to rent the same properties every year and enjoy living in communities they know and love.

Does Florida Have Medical Marijuana Reciprocity With Other States?

At the time of writing, Florida does not have medical cannabis reciprocity. Some states allow patients who have a valid medical marijuana cards to visit dispensaries, and they receive the same rights and legal protections as residential patients.

If you have a medical card issued by another state, you will not be able to purchase medical cannabis products at a dispensary. Visitors who are using medical cannabis purchased from their home state do not have the legal right to do so in Florida, and it can result in criminal charges.

How Can Florida Snowbirds Get a Medical Marijuana Card?

Traveling with medical cannabis can result in a felony offense. So, what should patients do when they spend the winter in Florida but they don’t live there all year? The Office of Medical Marijuana Use registry (OMMU) has made it possible for qualified patients to get a medical marijuana card if they have a temporary residence in Florida.

If you are a seasonal resident, you may be eligible for medical marijuana in Florida if you have one or more qualifying conditions accepted by the medical use registry. But there are some requirements proving seasonal residency before you can get a qualified patient identification card.

To be considered as a seasonal resident, you must:

  • Have resided in Florida at least thirty-one (31) consecutive days in each calendar year.
  • Provide proof that you pay income tax and are registered to vote in another state.
  • Return to your permanent residential address (home state) at least once every year.
  • Provide proof of a lease agreement that shows a temporary residential address in Florida.

If you are a seasonal resident in Florida, you may still become a registered patient with the state’s medical marijuana program. Once you have your medical card, you can visit Florida medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) and legally purchase, possess, and use cannabis.

How Do I Prove Seasonal Residency?

If you are a resident of the United States but not residing full-time in Florida, you can get a medical card. However, Florida medical marijuana laws require that you provide proof of seasonal residency. And there are a few different ways you can do that.

Correspondence from State or Federal Government Agency

Seasonal Florida residents may receive mail from a municipal government agency, county, state, or federal branch of the government. This can be used as proof of residency to apply for medical use of cannabis in Florida.

A Deed to a Mortgage

Some snowbirds have a vacation home or condo. They use it seasonally and may rent it out on Airbnb in the off-season. If that is your situation, you can provide a copy of the deed, monthly mortgage statement, or mortgage payment booklet to prove seasonal residency.

Utility Bills Or Work Order for Connection

Suppose you have just completed a utility hookup or paid a utility bill at your seasonal Florida home. In that case, that is accepted as proof of residential address to apply for a medical cannabis card. A utility hookup order dated no more than 60 days before applying for a medical card can also be used.

Mail from a Financial Institution

While most people conduct banking business online, if you get paper statements or any correspondence from a bank or financial institution to your Florida address, you can use it for proof of residential address. This can also include credit card statements.

Any proof of residential address that you provide should be no older than sixty (60) days. As long as a seasonal resident resides in Florida for thirty-one (31) consecutive days or longer and can prove seasonal residency, they may apply for a medical cannabis card. Subject to the approval of a Florida medical marijuana doctor.

How Do Seasonal Residents Get a Medical Card in Florida?

If you have your proof of residential address, the next step is to determine if you have at least one qualifying medical condition for medical marijuana. You will also need a doctor’s appointment to review your medical history, current medications, and symptoms.

If the Florida medical marijuana doctor feels that cannabis can help you safely moderate your symptoms, you may be approved to join the medical marijuana use registry. You will be issued a medical card, and you can visit medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) to purchase products.

Can You Take Medical Cannabis Home With You?

Once you have your seasonal resident medical marijuana card, you can purchase, possess and legally use cannabis in Florida. However, the legal protections of your Florida medical marijuana card do not extend to other states.

However tempting it may be to return home with some of the medical marijuana products you purchased in Florida, you can face severe legal consequences for transporting it out of the state. Remember to purchase small quantities close to the end of your seasonal stay since you can’t take it with you.

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