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”
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.”