On November 8th, Florida voted to pass Amendment 2, a measure that would legalize medical marijuana across the state. In response, medical and marijuana industry professionals are working to set up the structure that will define the path forward with these new laws.
To that end, CannaCure Florida is offering a medical cannabis education conference at The Cuban Club in Ybor City to educate those who are interested on how best to provide this service to patients, how to access these services and why for potential patients, and how to follow state law along the way for all involved. Held from November 18th through November 20th, those who cannot attend in person can follow along or catch up with the conversation by following #CannaConferenceTampa on social media.
Angela Ardolino is a parenting and family expert in Florida and a supporter of the medical marijuana legislation. Says Ardolino: “Now that we have the legislation in place to provide for the use of medical cannabis, educating physicians, patients and their caregivers about it is the next big step toward providing relief, and even recovery, to many patients.”
More medical marijuana conferences are planned across the state next year in Miami, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Sarasota, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Bushnell/The Villages.
Many in Florida are happy to see that marijuana has been legalized in the state for medical use. The hope is that the drug will be useful in helping people, young and old, with chronic and debilitating medical conditions, such as:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Though there is little specific evidence that supports dosing schedules for manageable treatment for these disorders using marijuana, the hope is that with legalization will come some funds to explore through research the ways in which the drug can be useful for people who are in pain.
In Florida, there is a large number of people who do not feel that legalization of marijuana for any purpose is a good idea for a state that is already struggling with a range of drug-related problems. They stress a number of concerns that are viable issues that the medical community, marijuana industry, government agencies, and local communities will have to work out in the very near future. For example, Florida will need to determine how to handle:
- Drugged driving: Driving under the influence is a huge concern in states that have legalized marijuana for any purpose. Thanks to pervasive public service announcements, many are aware of the dangers of driving after drinking but it is not as well-known that driving after taking any mind-altering substances, including legal substances taken for medicinal use, can be just as negatively impactful on a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Unlike alcohol, however, there is no standard for THC blood levels that law enforcement can test for in the street that will definitively determine whether or not someone is too impaired to drive and no device that can readily identify blood levels of the drug at roadside either. With an increase in regular use of marijuana among some Florida residents, there must be a way to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads through some measures designed to limit drugged driving.
- Children accessing edible marijuana products: Edible marijuana products are often a preferred method of marijuana ingestion among patients who do not want to smoke the drug. Unfortunately, the cookies, cakes, and candies that contain the substance that are commonly sold in marijuana dispensaries are indistinguishable from similar products that are marijuana-free – especially to a small child. There must be some regulation put into place about labeling that helps to limit a child’s ability to access marijuana edible products and that notes clearly that it contains marijuana to protect children from overdose.
- Regulation of the marijuana industry: The business of growing marijuana, processing it for sale, distributing it to dispensaries, and then putting it into the hands of the consumer is no small endeavor. Multiple businesses and industries as well as regulating industries play significant roles, and all of those must be developed and adjusted to fit the new regulations. Additionally, prescribing physicians must be adequately trained on how to prescribe the drug and educate patients who might use it as well as learn how to recognize the signs of addiction and other issues that can develop with regular use.
- Workplace-related issues: Now that the drug is legal for medicinal use, can businesses still require employees to refrain from use and pass drug tests? Can a business fire someone for using marijuana during work hours if they have a prescription? What about during off hours? These are questions that will require answers.
- Addiction: Marijuana is an addictive substance and regular use can lead to addiction no matter what the reason for taking the drug is. This will have to be addressed with appropriate interventions and treatments, and those resources must be in place and ready to go.
How do you think Florida with change with the passing of Amendment 2?