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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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Florida launches medical marijuana access - sort of

While marijuana often has a negative connotation associated with it, there are health benefits for those with debilitating conditions. Two years ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 that was designed to help those suffering with chronic disorders.

Terminally ill patients were added to the act during the last legislative session. Although it has taken some time for the program to really take effect, certain companies meeting strict requirements are now allowed to grow medical cannabis and low-THC cannabis.

Benefits of medical marijuana

Marijuana is more than just a recreational drug. Scientists are currently testing its properties to determine if it can be used for the treatment of several serious conditions, including:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alzheimer's
  • PTSD in military veterans
  • Concussions

Currently, the plant is being used, and is considered an effective treatment, for people with:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy

While the long-term effects of using medical cannabis to treat these conditions are unknown, researchers believe that there may be serious benefits when it comes to using marijuana for medical purposes, and Florida is one of many states to jump on board with the idea.

A slow approval

In an effort to move the program along, six businesses were given licenses by the state several months ago to cultivate medical marijuana, but only one currently has approval to dispense it. This may be a sign that it will take longer than expected for consumers in need to find access to medical cannabis. It's also evidence that the use of medical marijuana will be closely controlled and heavily regulated.

The retail store approved to sell medical cannabis, Hackney Nursery, also known as Trulieve, is located in Tallahassee, but plans to open locations in three other major cities to provide consumers with easier access to its product.

Future plans for medical marijuana

In November, voters will decide the future of medical marijuana in Florida with votes on Amendment Two. This would extend legal marijuana use to those who are diagnosed by a licensed physician with a debilitating medical condition.

Businesses allowed to process, grow and dispense medical cannabis must meet special requirements to gain approval. This includes a $5 million performance bond, fees paid to the state and at least three decades in the nursery business in the state.

While medical marijuana is legal in almost half of the states, recreational use has only been legalized in Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and Washington. Florida remains in the group that allows the use of cannabis for treating medical diseases, but not for recreation.

While the process and details may be confusing to those who want to take advantage of it, an attorney may be able to explain what is legal and what is not when it comes to medical marijuana.

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