Medical marijuana has been a big success in Florida. With the support of AARP and veterans groups, there are now about half a million Floridians who have medical cannabis cards. It’s proven to be a safe and effective alternative for many patients.
There are a few downsides, however, mostly related to the odd legal status this medicine holds. Florida and 32 other states allow it, but is is still illegal federally.
Unlike other medicines, Federal law does not permit the transfer of this plant or is derivatives across state lines. So for travelers and snowbirds, driving or flying with cannabis is illegal. I’m not saying people weren’t doing that though. They would be nice to see if it would become legal.
Many people wanting medical marijuana avoid it because they fear they might not be able to own guns. This is not true. You can own guns and in fact have a concealed carry permit in Florida and have a medical marijuana card, no problem. But if you want to buy a new gun from a federal dealer, you will be asked to sign a form that will disqualify you with this statement “The use and possession of marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
There are no dispensaries in Citrus County to buy medical marijuana. While there are over 85 pharmacies in the county, the closest dispensaries are in Ocala and the Villages. I’m sure this will change soon. We have a few thousand patients in this county waiting for it. Fortunately, many dispensaries will deliver to your home.
Then there is the expense. Even though medical marijuana is a whole, whole lot cheaper than most pharmaceuticals, insurance does not cover it. So typically patients spend $100-$200 a month out of pocket for this medicine.
Working people have issues too. Many large employers are pressured by the feds to do routine drug testing in order to get reduced rates on Worker’s Comp insurance. The drug test will show THC with a cannabis patient and this leaves the employee in a vulnerable position. The laws have been changed to protect workers in many states and just recently in the NFL but Florida is still working on this.
Medical cannabis has actually been used as medicine for around 3000 years. It’s only in the last 80 years we haven’t had access to this medicinal herb that’s never killed anyone. We have a lot of regulatory undoing to do as we move forward.
Dr. Bob Goethe is a board-certified anesthesiologist with over 40 years experience and a certified medical cannabis physician. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-601-4200.