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 marijuana) at or from an approved state dispensary. The patient must be a Florida resident or qualified seasonal resident and must be qualified in the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry.
Follow these steps if you would like to become eligible for medical marijuana:
- Go online to www.myfloridagreen.com and click on Get Started.
- Enter address or zip code, then click Go.
- You will see photos of qualified ordering physicians, click on photo of Dr. Grubbs.
- Enter your information on the registration form.
- Pay the $99 registration fee at the bottom and then Submit payment.
- You will receive an instant email with a link to complete your medical questionnaire (Check your Spam or Junk Mail if you don’t see this email in your regular Inbox.)
- Complete the medical questionnaire.
- You must provide your SS#, date of birth, and current weight. (NOTE: This form is secure and HIPAA compliant so it will never be shared.)
- Select all of your current and previous medical conditions; be thorough.
- Select Option 1 or 2, depending on whether you upload a picture of your medicine bottle(s) or your medical history records.
- Sign at the bottom and click on Submit form. Do not leave this screen until you see the message that your questionnaire form was submitted successfully.
- You will receive an appointment email that asks you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Grubbs for an evaluation to confirm your qualifications for medical cannabis use. This physical evaluation is required by state law. A fee of $199 is required upon scheduling the physical evaluation.
- When you have scheduled your appointment, you will receive an email with a link and instructions on how to access the Florida Medical Marijuana Use Registry to complete your state profile.
- Provide proof of residence by uploading a picture of your Florida driver’s license. If you are a part-time resident and the address in your state profile doesn’t match the address on your driver’s license, you must upload a picture of a utility bill with your name on it and a lease or property tax bill showing your name and address. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, you will need two proofs of residency, including a utility bill and a lease or property tax bill in your name.
- After uploading your proof of residence, sign your name at the bottom by typing your first and last name as it appears in your profile, and then click the green button.
- A payment screen will appear, giving you the ability to pay your state fee of $75 online or by mail.
- At your medical evaluation, Dr. Grubbs will:
- Review your medical documentation
- Address your medical questions or concerns
- Develop a preliminary plan to treat your condition with medical marijuana
- When approved by the state (approximately two weeks), you will receive an email stating that you are qualified for medical cannabis use. This email will include a temporary Florida Medical Marijuana Card. With this temporary card, you may now purchase your medical marijuana. In about two to three months, you will receive a hard copy of your Florida Medical Marijuana Card.
NOTE: Fees are subject to change.