In November 2016, Amendment 2 passed in Florida with an overwhelming margin, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. As of January 2017, medical Florida marijuana officially became available to those in the state, and doctors are preparing to treat an influx of patients who qualify for the drug, while also trying to navigate unclear rules and regulations.
Two types of medical marijuana
There are two types of medical marijuana, each used to treat different health conditions: Low-THC cannabis.
Which contains minimal amounts of psychoactive THC and does not cause the “high” typically associated with marijuana; and a stronger, high-THC cannabis, which does.
medical Florida marijuana patients must be under the care of a physician certified by the Florida Department of Health. Presently, conditions that qualify for low-THC or medical cannabis prescriptions in Florida include cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, muscle spasms and multiple sclerosis. Low-THC cannabis is typically prescribed to patients with conditions that cause chronic pain, while patients deemed by two physicians to have a terminal illness qualify for high-THC cannabis.
As medical marijuana becomes legal, more questions emerge
There are still several unclear legalities surrounding the prescription and use of medical Florida marijuana. For example, as a recent Miami Herald article notes, there is no Florida law that allows smokeable marijuana for patients. But because Amendment 2 doesn’t specifically address smokeable marijuana, it remains unclear whether it will be allowed.
Other points to be addressed by the state legislature include how to issue and renew medical marijuana cards. Determining the medically “adequate” amount of marijuana to prescribe, and specific protocol on how treatment centers can and should operate. Local governments will also need to determine zoning issues surrounding newly opened dispensaries.
“We’re in this, like funky gray period right now where you’ve got medical marijuana in the state constitution but with no regulation,” says Ben Pollara, executive chairman of advocacy group Florida for Care.
Florida Marijuana : Adverse health effects and addiction
Despite popular rhetoric that paints marijuana as harmless, it is not without its adverse effects. It’s critical to keep in mind that prescription does not exclude danger. And as demonstrated by the current opioid addiction crisis, even with prescriptions, the potential for misuse is still present.
As with all substances with the potential for misuse, clear regulation for medical marijuana is vital. According to Nancy Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is addictive, can impair short-term memory and distort perception, and can impair performance in school or at work. Though medical marijuana is available for medical use in certain states, cannabis remains illegal on the federal level in the U.S.
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