Florida Today did a pretty good job laying out the ins and outs for Florida's newly minted medical marijuana regulations.
Patients who suffer chronic pain related to 10 qualifying conditions — including epilepsy, cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis and other afflictions — may receive either low-THC cannabis or full-strength medical marijuana.
The Legislature also increased the number of "medical marijuana treatment centers" which grow, process and sell the product. By October, there will 17 centers, each permitted a maximum of 25 retail outlets, dispersed among five regions of the state. The number of outlets will rise gradually until the cap expires in 2020.
There's no waiting period for new patients, and thousands of Florida physicians, including more than three dozen on the Treasure Coast, have completed the required 8-hour education course and are qualified to prescribe medical marijuana.
Vero Beach has approved the first dispensary in our area, and St. Lucie County has determined it will permit up to eight dispensaries. Port St. Lucie could consider a draft medical marijuana ordinance by July.
In theory, all this should mean those who need medical marijuana will have reasonable access to it. See a qualified doctor who determines whether you have a qualified condition. If so, he or she could write you a prescription, which you fill at your friendly neighborhood dispensary (or, if one is not yet available, have it delivered via courier service), and everyone's happy.
Well, not everyone.
For the list of rules, while largely laudable, has a few gaping holes. One is destined to be addressed via litigation. Another, if left unaddressed, could lead to significantly less access in some regions of the state compared to others.
For all that legislators did right on new law, they erred in banning the smoking of medical marijuana. Bill sponsors in both chambers said there was no scientific evidence showing smoking to be more effective than other ways of using the drug.
Yet John Morgan, the Orlando attorney, a deep-pocketed backer of Amendment 2 and potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has said he will sue the state, arguing that voters who backed the measure had a reasonable expectation that those who need medical marijuana would be able to smoke it.Here's my 2 cents on smoking. First, who - whether you voted for or against medical marijuana - imagined that smoking it would be prohibited? The actual text of the bill lays out that smoking cannot be required in public places. That infers that smoking is permitted in private places.
So why smoke it when other options are available? Smoking allows the patient to receive almost immediate relieve and the effects are stronger than when vaping. Edibles sometimes take over an hour to provide relief. Smoking allows the patient to "micro dose," using just enough to provide relief. When I have used marijuana medicinally sometimes one or two puffs were all that was required.
All medicines come with some risk, and the risks associated with smoking marijuana are negligible when compared to the risks of the opioid drugs they will be supplanting.
Besides, the only people who should tell you how to use a medicine are doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Politicians are not qualified.