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Are Florida Doctors Prepared to Treat Patients with Medical Marijuana?

icon  11 Oct, 2017  /  icon  0        Author: Chloe

As marijuana politics goes, Florida is definitely not liberal in its implementation of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana laws are quite strict in Florida and it is not easy to get medical marijuana there. There are a number of hoops and obstacles that patients must go through in order to gain access to marijuana. This is in stark contrast with other states where medical marijuana can be relatively easy to obtain. In some states, you can even apply for a medical marijuana card online with a doctor. You answer a number of questions online and a registered doctor gives you a recommendation and you have can then order your medical marijuana card. Needless to say, this is not the case in Florida.

Reluctance in Florida

There is a huge lack of expertise at present in terms of all marijuana doctors. The fact of the matter is that the majority of doctors that are qualified by the state to give recommendations for marijuana prescriptions (doctors cannot prescribe marijuana, as this is illegal. They can only make a recommendation for a prescription which is fulfilled by a medical marijuana dispensary) are not very knowledgeable about the subject matter. And in many ways, this is to be expected. For one thing, much research is new and marijuana has been an illegal substance for the past 80 years pretty much worldwide, so it is not as it there is a lot of available data. And secondly, the effects of marijuana are by and large subjective, with some patients responding very well to Indicas and others responding very well to Sativas. Saying this, some are outraged at the lack of expertise.

According to a veteran Richard Hackler who was suffering from PTSD “These doctors are not educated enough…They don’t know a thing about dosages or what they are prescribing.”His complaint was that the dosage that doctors were offering was far too low. Doctors in Florida seem to be erring on the side of caution given that they know next to nothing about marijuana. Donna Doucette, a retired registered nurse who lives in Pinellas Park, is still in pain after trying five combinations of cannabis levels recommended to her by a state-qualified doctor in Tampa.According to Doucette:

“Nothing helps my nausea or decreases my need for opiate pain control…I feel I need a more experienced physician to help me maneuver this totally unknown alternative to mainstream medicine. … At this point we are out there on our own and there is no connection between the physicians and the providers of the cannabis”

State Qualified?

Given the complaints it might be worth investigating what the term “state qualified” actually means.At first, the course was 8 hours long at a cost of $1000. Now, under a new law in Florida, the course has been slashed to 2 hours at a minor cost of $250. There is only so much that can be learned in a day, never mind 2 hours. And even before it was shortened, many doctors said it was very basic info that could simply have been googled. The state course does not go into any great detail about the dosages or side effects or any other essential information. In other words, doctors know next to nothing about marijuana. They are not experts in any way beyond what a normal person could spend a day of research on. Not that this is any fault on their part in Florida, as there is really nothing that they can do. But according to Hackler, compared to other medical specialists, doctors in Florida really fail to hit the mark. He had previously gotten marijuana in California for years and is saying that the dosages in Florida were always far, far too low. He was almost ready to give up in Florida after countless visits to offices.

Immature and Unprofessional

In the end Hackler found a doctor:” We overcame my concerns. The doctor was possibly being overly cautious, whereas I already knew what I needed…He eventually relented.” But this sort of blatant ineptitude is really not good enough, with doctors charging too much and under prescribing and “learning on the go”. They are being overly cautious and still have too large of an eye on the potential profit margins instead of genuinely trying to help their patients. It probably has a lot to do with the litigation culture which seems to be very prominent in the state where people like to sue as much as possible. And there are a lot of grey areas with marijuana at the moment, so doctors cannot really know what to do. But all in all, medical implementation in Florida is very unprofessional. A good summation of medical marijuana in Florida is the following statement by the Savara Hastings, executive director of the Florida-based American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association:

“Most medical marijuana conferences offer seminars on how to grow your own marijuana, how to get rich quick, how to make marijuana-infused pudding, and how marijuana will both cure cancer”

Until formal rules, regulations and requirements are put in place, physicians will continue to focus on their bottom line and avoiding litigation, with the health of the patient coming a distant third. According to Hackler “I didn’t vote for this nonsense…I would almost prefer to continue my dependency on Alprazolam. It’s a huge disappointment.”

Doctors and Patients in Florida Are Embracing Medical Marijuana

icon  27 Sep, 2017  /  icon  0        Author: Chloe

The onslaught of medical marijuana is taking over the USA as states and local counties clamber to take advantage of the much sought-after cannabis plant. In recent years the astounding benefits of marijuana has been brought to the public attention and each state has to decide whether or not it wants to embrace the benefits of cannabis.

Medical Marijuana in Florida

Florida has just embarked on a huge project in medical marijuana, and it is estimated to be a $1 billion industry. Sales have only started this year but interest is increasing in a rather lucrative industry. In the year since medical marijuana has been approved in the state, over 1000 additional doctors have applied for registration to prescribe cannabis to patients. This was always going to happen, as patients are simply going to ask their doctors for marijuana prescriptions and if they cannot provide this simple service, they will take their business elsewhere. An official state list shows that more than 1,200 doctors have been authorized to prescribe medical marijuana. When voters approved legalized medical marijuana in November 2016, that number stood at fewer than 300. The State Office of Medical Marijuana is granting licenses to doctors at the rate of about 18 per day.

There are a number of reasons as to why Florida is a hotspot for medical marijuana and for the marijuana industry in general. Firstly, it has nearly 21 million inhabitants, making it the third most populous country in the state. Nearly 20% of the population is over the age of 65. This age group are very prominent in terms of medical marijuana, suffering from all the typical ailments that marijuana is generally prescribed for – arthritis, chronic pain, glaucoma, insomnia etc. This elderly demographic is projected to grow in Florida in the coming years.

Potential Issues

The main area of growth in marijuana sales has been in South Florida, but medical dispensaries are emerging all over the state, as are clinics that help people to obtain a medical marijuana card. Getting a medical marijuana card in Florida is not the same as obtaining one in New Jersey. It has been made very difficult to get a medical marijuana card in Florida, and they are not easily prescribed. In places like California, all that was needed was a state ID from any state along with an online application. You could have it in 40 minutes. This is not the case in Florida, where the rules stipulated that you have to obtain from in person from a doctor you have been with for 2 months. These restrictions are expected to be lessened in future but presently it is quite difficult to obtain medical marijuana unless you have a genuine illness.

One potential issue is that Florida is having trouble keeping up with the demand for medical marijuana. This can again be contrasted with California, which is estimated to have in the region of 8 times as much supply as demand when recreational marijuana finally becomes legal in 2018. Prescriptions in Florida are having a tough time getting filled. A large part of the problem is that the current number of 30,000 medical marijuana card holders is expected to grow to 500,000 in the next 5 years.

The state advises that now it will take about 30 days to get a card. A patient must first get a diagnosis of certain allowable conditions and then a prescription from a doctor. That information must be put into a registry with a state, which will then review the application and grant the card if all criteria are met.In Florida, these are called Compassionate Use Registry Identification cards.Residents of Florida are not allowed to grow their own medical marijuana. Also, only certain illnesses and conditions allow for the use of cannabis. They include cancer, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, chronic muscle spasm, seizures, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

An Unfortunate Side Effect

An unfortunate side effect of the current situation in Florida is that it may be a while before any other diseases get on this list. The logistical fact of a lack of marijuana supply means that the last thing administrative officials are considering is to add more conditions to the list which would put more strain on an already overheated system. But they have no one but themselves to blame for making it so very difficult to obtain marijuana. They are now in a logistical nightmare that will continueas long as the medical marijuana industry is overly regulated, which simply slows down the whole system and angers residents who have to wait months before being granted access.