What is Medical Cannabis?
The human endocannabinoid system receptor system helps regulate many essential physiological processes in the human body, including appetite, blood pressure, immunity, inflammation, memory, and pain sensation. Endocannabinoids are produced by the brain from dietary sources of amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids, and they may be supplemented by natural cannabis plant material known as phytocannabinoids that have many therapeutic and medicinal effects.
The marijuana plant is a source of natural plant-based cannabinoids, thus the term medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, which is cultivated specifically for medical use to treat a variety of conditions and diseases. Although the marijuana plant produces over 100 cannabinoids, only two are currently used medicinally—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Marijuana is not recognized or approved as medicine by the FDA, but the federal government allows individual states to legalize marijuana for adult recreational or medical use, or both. In Florida at this time, low-THC and medical cannabis (contains THC) are legal for medical use only, and a handful of nurseries in Florida have been approved to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana.
Why Medical Marijuana?
With the passage of Amendment 2 to the Florida state constitution, effective in January 2017, medical marijuana was approved as an all-natural, non-addictive, and non-lethal alternative treatment to synthetic medicine, particularly opioids, for a number of debilitating conditions. Why this alternative treatment?
- An alarming number of drug overdose deaths are being caused by legal prescription drugs, and over three-fourths of these deaths have been reported to be from opioid-related drugs.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared opioid abuse a national opioid epidemic in 2011. In May 2017 the opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in the state of Florida.
- In states where medical marijuana programs are in place, opioid-related deaths are showing decline.
The debilitating conditions that qualify for treatment by medical marijuana in Florida are:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s)
- Back pain
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Crohn’s disease
- Cyclical vomiting condition
- Hepatitis C
- Irritable bowel syndrome with chronic abdominal pain
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Sickle cell anemia
- Any terminal condition
- Other debilitating condition of like, kind, or class
Process To Qualify For Medical Marijuana
Patients or their legal representatives in the state of Florida must receive a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card from the Florida Department of Health. This card allows the patient to get an order filled for low-THC cannabis, high-CBD cannabis (medical cannabis), or a cannabis delivery device at an approved state dispensary. The patient must be a Florida resident, be qualified in the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, and submit an application to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Follow these steps:
- You must have a qualified physician as your ordering physician for medical marijuana. Gerald E. Grubbs, MD, medical director of RevitaLife Vitality Center, is a board-certified physician who has completed the required training to serve as a “qualified ordering physician” and is licensed with the Office of Medical Marijuana Use in the state of Florida.
- To establish care with Dr. Grubbs, go to www.myfloridagreen.com before your first appointment. On home page, scroll down to the GET STARTED button to complete a comprehensive application about your health and other required forms as applicable. MyFloridaGreen runs on secure, HIPAA-compliant server, so the personal information you enter on the application is both private and protected.
- On this site, you will enter payment information for a $99 processing fee for MyFloridaGreen to process your medical information and create your medical profile to register you with the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
- Upon receipt of your temporary Medical Marijuana Card issued by the state of Florida, you will then call Dr. Grubbs’ office to schedule your initial appointment. You will need to bring supporting documentation from your treating physician regarding the condition for which you are seeking medical marijuana treatment. At this appointment, Dr. Grubbs will review your medical information and do a physical evaluation to verify your qualifying medical condition. The $199 fee for this visit is payable online at www.myfloridagreen.com.
- The state of Florida requires you to submit a passport-type color photo taken within the last 90 days, driver’s license or other proof of residency (state-issued ID card, copy of utility bill with your name and Florida address, or copy of Florida voter registration card), and state registration fee of $75 made payable to Florida Department of Health. MyFloridaGreen will give you instructions on how to submit these items.
- State approval takes about 4 weeks (sometimes longer, depending on volume), and you will receive a Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. This card is valid for one year from the date of issuance. (Re-apply 45 days prior to expiration date.)
- When you receive your official Medical Marijuana Registry Identification Card, you will have a second visit with Dr. Grubbs to finalize his recommendation for your medical marijuana treatment plan. This step is necessary because of the time lapse between your first visit and issuance of your card. The fee for this second visit is $75.
- Take the recommendation you receive from Dr. Grubbs to an authorized medical marijuana dispensary. At this time, there are seven licensed dispensaries in Florida, and products may differ among these dispensaries. Products may be picked up at the dispensary or delivered for a fee. If you prefer to pick up your medical marijuana, the closest dispensary to Dr. Grubbs’ office is: Trulieve, 1103 14th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205; Phone: 941-216-0165. At the dispensary, your original recommendation will be reviewed and possibly modified in dosage or method of consumption.
- Follow up with Dr. Grubbs every 90 days, as required by Florida law, so call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Grubbs within 90 days from receipt of your first medical marijuana from the dispensary. At these appointments, Dr. Grubbs will monitor your progress and make any recommendations for changes to your customized treatment plan. The fee for each of these visits is $99.