Are you aware that Amendment 2 that was passed in November of 2016 made extensive changes to the MMJ law, much of which affected dispensaries, physicians, and patients in 2018? Prior to the passing of Amendment 2, Florida had one of the strictest and most limiting MMJ sets of regulations in the nation. Medical marijuana was legal only for those with a terminal condition and could only be purchased in low THC varieties.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a natural element found in the cannabis plant. This, along with cannabidiol or CBD, are the chemical components that give marijuana its major characteristics, including its medical benefits.
Though their compositions are similar, their effects are widely different. THC is psychoactive, which means it produces a ‘high’ and is the intoxicating substance associated with marijuana. It produces relaxation, euphoria, hunger, and, in some cases, altered senses. CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects though it does have a variety of other effects on the body.
The reason why the old Florida laws limiting medical marijuana use to only low-THC varieties was restrictive was that THC is vital in the treatment of many medical conditions.
Both THC and CBD affect our brain and central nervous system differently. Both cannabinoids affect our endocannabinoid system, which is why they have such positive effects on those whose endocannabinoid system is not working properly. However, THC binds well with the cannabinoid 1 receptor CBD does not bind as well. This causes THC to directly activate the body better than CBD.
THC also imitates the effects of the neurotransmitter anandamide, a naturally occurring chemical in the body that, when impaired, can lead to anxiety, loss of appetite, and insomnia. THC is also key in treating the side of effects of chemotherapy and in treating those with glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
CBD does beat THC in a few areas, such as reducing anxiety, inflammation, and pain, and boosting energy, but limiting medical marijuana usage to low THC varieties hampered the drug’s use in many conditions. The new law under Amendment 2 will now allow all strains on the THC-to-CBD spectrum to be sold to those who have a state-issued medical marijuana card.
How New Laws Will Affect Medical Marijuana Patients in Florida
Those who currently use medical marijuana will be largely unaffected by Florida’s new marijuana laws unless they are interested in buying strains of marijuana that are higher in THC. They can continue to legally purchase and use medical marijuana with a doctor’s note or a state-issued ID card. However, under the new law, the conditions that can be treated with marijuana have been greatly expanded. In addition to terminal conditions, medical marijuana is now legal to treat ten conditions. They are as follows: cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, HIV, AIDS, and Crohn’s Disease.
Those who suffer from one of the ten above conditions and have a medical history that includes multiple attempts at the treatment that were either ineffective or produced too many adverse side effects may now consider using medical marijuana in their treatment plan. The amendment also allows medical marijuana patients to nominate caregivers who can cultivate their cannabis in the event they cannot do so themselves. These caregivers must also apply and be approved for state-issued identification cards to legally buy medical marijuana for those they provide care for.
Purchasing Marijuana in Florida
Purchasing marijuana under Amendment 2 is only legal for those who have state-issued medical marijuana ID cards. To qualify for these ID cards, an individual must make an appointment with a licensed medical marijuana doctor.
The physician will find out the individual’s medical history and determine if they qualify for medical marijuana usage by having one of the approved ten conditions. They will also determine whether other treatment options have been attempted and if medical marijuana would treat their condition better than previous treatments.
If they approve, the physician will issue a written recommendation for their patient to apply for a state-issued ID card. The individual must submit this, along with the approved application forms, to the Department of Health. They will receive their medical marijuana card in the mail and may use it to purchase marijuana for up to one year.
This card can then be used to purchase medical marijuana at any dispensary approved by the state of Florida. Under Amendment 2, medical marijuana can be purchased in the form of oils, tinctures, creams, or flowers that can be vaped or used to make edibles. At this time, any type of marijuana that can be smoked is still illegal. It is also illegal for anyone who has not received approval from the state of Florida to grow marijuana to do so, even if it is only for personal use.
Marijuana legally purchased in the state is also illegal to take over state lines. The penalties vary depending on the state you are driving to or from and on what form the marijuana is in.
Knowing if Medical Marijuana is Right For You
Just because medical marijuana is now legal for more individuals in the state of Florida does not necessarily mean it is the right treatment for you. If you suffer from one of the ten approved conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before going through the process of getting a medical marijuana card in Miami.
You must ask yourself if you have been properly diagnosed for your condition. Many individuals may think they suffer from PTSD or Crohn’s, but if they have not received a proper diagnosis, they may actually have a different condition. Not only is a medical diagnosis important for correct treatment, but your medical marijuana physician will not be able to recommend medical marijuana unless you have a doctor’s diagnosis.
You should also ask yourself if you have tried other treatments. Though medical marijuana can be very useful in treating a number of conditions, often times it is not the first line of defense. Those with PTSD-induced anxiety, for example, should try therapy and relaxation techniques to see if these help their condition before moving on to prescription medications or medical marijuana.
If you believe you qualify for medical marijuana use under Amendment 2 and are a Florida resident, please visit mmjdoctors.com.
We can answer all your questions and start the process of applying for a medical marijuana card in Miami.