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.
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.