More People To Use Higher-Strength Medical Marijuana In Florida

Florida – Amendment 2 Goes Into Effect – The passage of Amendment 2 by an overwhelming margin in November changed Florida’s constitution to allow more people to use higher-strength medical marijuana.

The Florida Legislature and Department of Health still have to work out rules and regulations that will govern the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry.

Yet already, about 200 doctors in Florida are qualified to prescribe marijuana, and their patients — eager for a new antidote to their pains, nausea, and other ailments — are asking questions.

“There are many patients with cancer, neurological disorders or serious digestive problems that are waiting with hope of using a natural product,” said Silvia Bentancor, an internist who has a private, cannabis-based practice at CBD Clinic in Southwest Miami-Dade.

The Old Regulations

Under a 2014 law that legalized a limited form of medical marijuana, patient don’t have access to medical marijuana until they’ve been seeing their doctor for at least three months. Bentancor, who is among those 200 doctors, said she’s already starting to see new patients who want to establish a relationship now.

Marijuana growers and dispensaries, like South Florida’s Modern Health Concepts, have also heard from a growing number of patients newly covered under the amendment.

“We get dozens of inquiries on a daily basis,” said CEO Richard Young.

He said his company is poised to meet demand, but without guidance from the Legislature, it’s unclear if doctors can begin prescribing marijuana to newly covered patients before all the rules are worked out.

“The notion that medical marijuana [amendment] becomes effective is a little anticlimactic,” said Ben Pollara, executive chairman of advocacy group Florida for Care. “It’s effective as a point of law. But before anybody can see access to medical marijuana under this new law, there needs to be rulemaking and regulations passed by the Legislature.”

New Ailments In Floridas Medical Marijuana Legislation

That industry is already operating under law passed in 2014 that permitted the growth and use of low-strength cannabis for people with a very limited number of specific conditions — including cancer or a physical medical condition that causes chronic spasms and seizures.

Medical cannabis products, which have a larger dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that gives a user a “high,” are currently available only to patients who have been certified terminally ill by two doctors.

Now that Amendment 2 is in effect, the list of approved conditions for medical marijuana has expanded to:

▪ Cancer

▪ Epilepsy

▪ Glaucoma

▪ HIV

▪ AIDS

▪ Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

▪ Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)

▪ Crohn’s disease

▪ Parkinson’s disease

▪ Multiple sclerosis

Bentancor and the other doctors who have undergone a $1,000 eight-hour training program with the Department of Health — a new annual requirement under Amendment 2 — will have to submit each qualifying patient’s treatment plan to the University of Florida for research purposes.

The rest of the regulations that will put the amendment into practice have yet to be written, but the Legislature and the Department of Health have hard deadlines for writing them.

 

Read more here: Miami Herald

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