Medical Marijuana Program

Picture1In January, 2017, the use of Medical Marijuana became legalized in the state of Florida for individuals suffering from a debilitating medical condition.  This form of Medical Cannabis has the full pain relief effect but a very low THC content, the component of marijuana responsible for giving you the “high”. The high THC content is available for more intractable pain.  It is not smoked and it remains illegal to smoke marijuana. It comes in various forms to include pills, sublingual drops, and a form that can be vaporized, much like an electronic cigarette. If prescribed by a licensed Florida physician, Medical Marijuana, or cannabis, may be used to treat the following defined as such:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Cancer, Crohn’s disease, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Chronic Pain is one of the most common ailments for which doctors prescribe Medical Marijuana, in particular for musculoskeletal pain, pain from arthritis, spinal stenosis and neuropathy.

Medical Marijuana for Pain Management

This law qualifies chronic pain patients for treatment, especially those who have failed medical management to include opiates, physical therapy, interventional pain therapy, and surgery.   It can be used to augment relief from existing medications and, ideally, allow a decrease in the amount of other prescription medications being ordered

Safety and Efficacy

Cannabis and its psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, are considered safe for human consumption.  The THC, responsible for giving the classical “high” in the past, has been engineered to be extremely low in certain dispensed versions, hence patients will receive the pain relief effect only without other recreational side effects.  This is closely monitored by the manufacturer. Medical Cannabis can contain sufficient levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC to produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis limited only to a patient suffering from a condition that has been determined to be more severe or terminal. Recent medical reports indicate that no deaths have been recorded from the use of cannabis and studies show it is physically impossible for a human to die from a cannabis overdose.

To qualify for medical cannabis treatment one must:

  • Be a permanent resident of Florida
  • Be entered into the Compassionate Use Registry by a qualified physician
  • Records of at least 12 months duration, documenting the chronic medical condition
  • Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition (as described above or comparable, as determined by your physician)

All applications must be submitted to the Office of Compassionate Use, and must include a full-face, passport-type color photograph taken within 90 day, and a registration fee of $75. Compassionate Use Registry identification cards remain active for one year. Our office will assist in this application process.

The three disqualifying factors that make one ineligible for Florida’s Medical Marijuana Program are:

  1.  If one is not or cannot prove Florida Residency
  2.  If one has a personal history of schizophrenia
  3.  If one has a direct familial history of schizophrenia (mother, father, siblings).
  4.  The patient uses his or her card to obtain Medical Cannabis for another individual
  5.  If one medically misrepresents their illness or severity of pain
  6.  No cancellation phone call and/or No Shows to our appointment office visit

Because this is a state, and not a federal law, insurance companies will not allow payment for medical cannabis treatments.  All medical cannabis clinical visits, by law, must be separate than the medical visits, otherwise it is considered insurance fraud.

Dispensing Organization

Once approved, qualified patients may fill orders only at one of Florida’s seven approved dispensing organizations. If a dispensing facility is not within close proximity, a prescription can be filled by contacting a dispensing organization and arranging for a delivery. This is the only way a Medical Marijuana order will be filled.

The dispensing organization will verify the identity of the patient or legal representative, as well as the order, in the Compassionate Use Registry. The dispensing organization will assist in guiding the patient in the most helpful form of medical cannabis delivery and often has excellent websites to assist in this process.