Florida’s Medical Marijuana Program: In Need Of An Immediate Remedy

There are over 1,000 licensed physicians registered with the office of Medical Marijuana Use, which by the way was formerly titled The Office of Compassionate Use. The current version of the bill signed by Governor Rick Scott stripped the word compassion from verbiage and some would say the compassion was stripped from the entire program as well.

Out of the 1,000 + physicians, 900 of them are reluctant to incorporate medical marijuana into their practice because the rules the Florida Department of Health have implemented are incredibly vague and restrictive. Most physicians with an established brick and mortar practice are not willing to risk their established business to evaluate, treat, certify, and make a recommendation for medical marijuana.

Many Physicians nationwide in states where marijuana is legal for medical use have been harassed, targeted by Federal Law Enforcement Agents, and even arrested. Out of the estimated 1000 Physicians that are participating in Florida’s medical marijuana initiative, less than half are practicing proper protocols with regard to the guidance set forth by the Florida Department of Health.

Doctors Need To Know The Facts

Physicians have been trained to evaluate a patient and if necessary, write a prescription for a certain drug that could have a therapeutic benefit to a specific ailment or condition. With regard to Medical Marijuana, physicians are instructed to write a recommendation not a prescription, like they are so accustomed to.This leads to a broad spectrum of dosages, strains, method of administering the medicine etc. Most participating Physicians lack the knowledge and experience to adequately treat and recommend medical marijuana for their patients.

An important fact to consider is Medical Marijuana is a recommendation, not a prescription. You can’t prescribe a plant! Every patient is unique with many variables such as varying tolerances to the medicine and how the body metabolizes it. Patients metabolize and process THC and CBD, the 2 most active compounds of the plant very differently from one another. This presents a challenge to Physicians who are trying to accurately recommend a specific measured dose for a qualifying condition.

“This is a recommendation, not a prescription. There is no scientific data regarding specific dosing. Start low and slowly increase your dose to avoid adverse reactions”

Let’s elaborate on dosing for a moment. In November of 2016, the people of Florida decided with an overwhelming majority to pass Amendment 2. Under Amendment 2, “flower” (the green bud of the plant) is not an acceptable derivative to recommend to a patient.

The Florida Legislature passed, and Governor Rick Scott signed, a provision that defines “medical use” to exclude “possession, use or administration of marijuana in a form for smoking.”

Arguing that Florida state legislators violated voters’ intent when they prohibited smoking for the medical use of marijuana, John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who spearheaded and financed the successful campaign to make medical access to cannabis a constitutional right, filed a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court on July 6, 2017, asking the court to declare the law implementing the 2016 constitutional amendment unenforceable.

“Inhalation is a medically effective and efficient way to deliver Tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], and other cannabinoids, to the bloodstream. By redefining the constitutionally defined term ‘medical use’ to exclude smoking, the Legislature substitutes its medical judgment for that of ‘a licensed Florida physician’ and is in direct conflict with the specifically articulated Constitutional process,” the lawsuit states.

Morgan’s lawsuit claims that provision “redefined and narrowed the definition of marijuana in direct conflict” with the Constitution.

There are several opinions for Medical Marijuana and how it’s usage should be allowed for qualifying patients. Some questions that come to mind. What’s the public’s perception on smoking a joint as an acceptable delivery method considered of Medical Marijuana? How do we expect the conservative counties in Florida or better yet, the prominent cities like Naples, Florida to welcome the smell of Marijuana Smoke when leaving a restaurant with their family? That’s a hard sale.

Vaping is allowed as a delivery system to administer Medical Marijuana. Isn’t this the same as smoking? When you vape, you inhale a measured dose with the formulated strains of your choice. A patient is basically vaping Cannabis oil in an electronic cigarette. Vapor is produced as a by-product, not smoke so an odor is minimal if any. Most importantly, this is a measured dose.

RELATED: Florida Marijuana & Politics Blog

There are several other delivery methods authorized with Amendment 2. They include vaping, tinctures, oil drops, lozenges, nasal sprays, capsules, and a syringe to name a few. When you consider these delivery methods and witness the results, especially in children with cancer or epilepsy, it makes you think twice about the value of “Medical Marijuana.”

The American people have been brain washed to think Marijuana is a dangerous drug when in fact it’s quite the opposite. The healing benefits of Medical Marijuana are undeniable which is why 29 States have implemented Medical Marijuana Programs and many patients across the country are receiving the life saving benefits of this plant. For those who failed math because they smoked to much at Woodstock, that’s well over half the country that believe and voted to have at least Medical Marijuana as an option to traditional medicine.

In Florida, in order to become licensed with the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, you must be an M.D. or D.O. and take a course that was originally 8 hours and now has been abbreviated to 2 hours. But, the state has not released the new course, and those medical practitioners that are eligible to take this course must wait. Some may view this as a blessing, considering there are over 1,000 physicians that can certify a patient and recommend Medical Marijuana in Florida, but the majority have no idea what they are doing.

Why can’t a holistic physician like a chiropractor become licensed to recommend  Cannabis? One would think they know more about natural medicine than the traditionally trained physicians (M.D. or D.O.) that studied books written by “Big Pharma.” To add salt to the wound, the amount of pain management physicians, (you know the ones that are partially responsible for the massive “opioid epidemic” in Florida) that have now decided to “go green” and obtain their Medical Marijuana license, in conjunction with prescribing poison to our society will make your stomach turn and your blood boil.

So why did we open this article describing Florida’s Medical Marijuana program as being in a state of complete disarray and severely flawed at many levels? When you combine the majority of inexperienced and uneducated licensed Medical Marijuana physicians, operating under parameters that were written by people clearly in denial of the medicinal benefits of Medical Marijuana, it makes a recipe for disaster.

The icing on the cake? The Office of Medical Marijuana Use, which is the office in charge of approving and issuing Medical Marijuana cards for qualifying patients here in Florida currently has over 40,000 patients registered (As of September, 2017). Rumor has it, they are under staffed with only 12 employees and 9 of them are part time. So once you qualify, see your physician for the required (and ridiculous) Physical evaluation, and go through the motions of submitting your passport photo, driver’s license copy, and sending in your check for $75.00 to the state, expect to wait between 45 and 60 days for your approval. This is as of September, 2017.

But hey, if you are looking for an opioid or any other harmful synthetic drug through your doctor, they can have you in and out in 15 minutes and on your way to Walgreens. And it would be covered under your insurance with a small co pay for most.

Marijuana is still a Federally illegal drug and is labeled a schedule 1, which means the substance has no medicinal value and is classified the same as Heroin! Insurance won’t cover it and the physicians recommending it are at risk of losing everything they’ve worked for. These issues may justify why some of the so called “compassionate” “caring” doctors that are licensed to recommend Medical Marijuana are charging $400 to $500 per visit. But hey, that’s not as criminal as prescribing your child Oxycontin which ultimately led to them to Heroin right?

The Smart Choice is The Natural Choice

We are in the worst opioid and Heroin epidemic in history and no one wants to acknowledge it.  It’s time for us to wake up! Especially here in Florida because Medical Marijuana could be embraced as a blessing, not the “evil devil’s weed” that our government instilled in our minds.

It’s no longer taboo, the more we get educated, the more lives we will save.

No one has ever died because of an overdose on Marijuana, EVER! Yet over 100 overdoses occurred per month in only the past 7 months in Lee County, Florida along. That’s 3.3 people per day, chances are, several people have overdosed in the state of Florida in the time you read this article. Be compassionate and let the trauma of this tragedy resonate for a moment.

Florida owes Mr. John Morgan an incredible amount of gratitude for his willingness to risk his reputation, especially with  conservatives, as he pioneers a clear path for patient access to medical marijuana certifications here in Florida. So we close this article with two questions: Will he run for governor? And will you vote for him if he does?