The increasing demand for medical marijuana in Florida
The medical marijuana program in Florida has seen a record adoption unlike most other medical cannabis programs in the United States. The update of the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use issued on 18th January 2018 showed that the number of patients using the drug has increased to 69,579. In the April 20th 2018 report, the number was over 100,500 patients and around 2500 patients are joining the list each week.
Patients in Florida are signing up in larger numbers and the increased awareness resulting from major events like the Florida Cannabis Coalition’s Supper Cannaday are helping fuel the demand. The increased demand has not only resulted in the large number of patients, but we are likely to see five more licenses awarded according to the statutory requirements.
For long, the Florida Cannabis Coalition has been working to promote physician and patient education in the state – that is since the MMJ program inception. The coalition has invested in education cannabis events and that is why such events in Florida exceed those in any other state. The coalition has facilitated networking of patients, entrepreneurs, physicians and MMTC. It has also helped them educate each other about the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
Despite the high growth, regulatory obstacles such as the delays in processing patient’s marijuana cards are still existent. Patients also claim that the relatively restrictive regime of Florida limits supply of medicinal cannabis available for sale.
Karen Seeb Goldstein, a medicinal marijuana patient and the director of the NORML of Florida, believes that high number of patients means that the seven cannabis providers in the state cannot keep up with the high demand. She claims that dispensaries have to deal with product shortages from time to time.
Voters in the state legalized medical cannabis in a landslide earlier in 2016 and the new industry has been growing rapidly. Apart from the 100,000 patients using the drug today, over 1300 doctors joined the list of physicians allowed to prescribe marijuana in Florida. Over 30 cannabis dispensaries are running, including the two opened in Lake Worth.
Smokable marijuana has remained illegal and therefore the dispensaries can only sell extracts and oils. You are unlikely to find cannabis in form of flowers or edibles such as granola, candles and cookies.
To receive the drug, patients must get a doctor’s permission. Marijuana doctors recommend marijuana to treat various conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. The doctors charge around $200 for an examination, an amount that insurance does not cover because cannabis is federally illegal. After receiving the doctor’s note, a patient has to pay $75 each year for the medical marijuana card.
Even more, some individuals are afraid of getting into the state’s marijuana users register and are therefore going for the pot sold in black market. The attorney General Jeff Sessions has been making headlines most recently with talks about the dangers of marijuana, which means that most patients are afraid of signing up. However, the state reveals very little information about the users. The Florida Department of Health does not provide details about the patient’s geographic distribution or diagnosis.