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5 things that are more complicated than buying a gun in Florida

Things harder to obtain than a gun in Fla.
3 things harder to obtain than a gun in Florida 01:53

The 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people on Valentine's Day at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, allegedly bought seven rifles in the last year, a federal law enforcement source has told CBS News. The mass shooting has renewed a nationwide debate about gun ownership, and the lack of restrictions on buying firearms.

Police say Nikolas Cruz allegedly used an AR-15 when he opened fire on his teachers and classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since 2012, AR-15s have been used in six of the deadliest mass shootings in the country. 

In Florida, it's easy to purchase any type of gun. According to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, no license is required to purchase and own a shotgun, a rifle or a handgun. The state does not require owners to register firearms. If you're 18 or older, you can buy as many guns as you want at one time in Florida, according to the NRA. 

To get an AR-15, gun store owner Moto Adika told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz: "If you are a law-abiding citizen, then we can sell you that gun. The whole process can take no more than 15 minutes."  

For a lot of gun purchases in Florida, it's an over-the-counter process with few barriers, which contrasts sharply with some other basics, which are increasingly regulated.

Cold medicine 

Don't expect to be able to stockpile Sudafed for your winter sniffles. Florida State law prohibits consumers from purchasing more than nine grams of common cold medication like Sudafed within a 30-day period. It's also illegal to purchase more than three packages at once. This is because the medication contains an ingredient called pseudoephedrine, used to create the illegal drug methamphetamine. In 2016, 327 people died from methamphetamine use in Florida. That same year, 2,559 gun deaths were recorded in the state. You can buy as many guns as you like at one time in Florida — most gun purchases are not registered. 

In order to purchase common cold medication, like Sudafed, customers are required to show a form of photo identification that proves they are at least 18 years old. Each purchase is recorded within a store's database to monitor the amount sold over the counter. 

Marriage license 

Hoping for a shotgun wedding in Florida? Hold your fire. State residents must either attend a premarital course or wait the mandatory three days before the marriage license takes effect. There is no waiting period for shotgun purchases in Florida but there is a three-day cooling-off period for handgun purchases, and a five-day waiting period for guns like the AR-15 in certain counties. That's waived if you have a concealed carry license. 

To obtain a marriage license in Florida, both parties must be at least 18 years old. Minors must provide consent from both of their parents or a legal guardian. Photo identification is required for all ages. 

Out-of-state residents are exempt from the waiting period, so elope there while the going is good.


Anyone buying more than 25 pounds of fertilizer is required to register and be screened against a known terrorist list. Yes, fertilizer.

So far, so in line with gun purchases. However, there are restrictions on the amount of fertilizer you can purchase in Florida because it contains ammonium nitrate, which, when mixed with other substances, can become explosive. Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh infamously used large quantities of fertilizer to make his bomb, prompting the federal government to clamp down on the sale of the gardening compounds (15 years later). 

Anti-diarrhea medication 

Buying large quantities of anti-diarrheal meds? Expect to be put under surveillance in a way that won't happen if you purchase large numbers of firearms. Anyone who bulk-buys anti-diarrhea medication is likely to come under scrutiny by the FDA because the drugs have been abused. In large doses, drugs like Imodium have a similar impact on the body as opiates like heroin. You'll get high, but your bowels will stop moving.  

In an effort to combat this bizarre sideline in the opioid epidemic, the FDA is asking manufacturers of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea treatments to change the way they package their products, and limit the amount of loperamide going into the medication.

Medical marijuana 

Medical marijuana is available for purchase in Florida, however, it is illegal under federal law. Licensed dispensaries are only allowed to sell medical marijuana to qualified customers.

To obtain a medical marijuana card, one must first seek treatment from a physician who will later enter client information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry.

A patient would then need to apply for a Compassionate Use Registry Identification Card. Once approved, the patient would be able to contact a licensed medical marijuana center to fill their order. Then, and only then, can you hope to get your hands on some marijuana. When Florida did its annual tally of deaths caused by drugs in 2016, zero deaths were attributed to marijuana.  

Editor's Note: This piece was edited to add details about the waiting periods required for handgun purchases and some rifle purchases, which were absent in earlier versions.

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