Now that Amendment 2 has passed, many people’s interests are piqued, wondering if medical marijuana may be a good therapeutic option for them or a loved one. What most people do not realize is that medical marijuana in the form of high CBD/low THC has been available since March of this year to patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy or seizures and severe muscle spasms as a result of the passage of the Compassionate Care Act of 2014.

Even though marijuana is still illegal federally, Florida has joined a growing number of states that have adopted state laws to make medical marijuana available to those in need. Florida physicians must complete an eight-hour course and pass an exam to become qualified to recommend medical marijuana. A qualifying patient must be established with a licensed marijuana physician for 90 days before they can be registered in the Florida Compassionate Use Registry.

Once their physician submits a treatment plan including dosing recommendations to the registry, the patient is issued a Compassionate Use Registry patient ID number. This number, as well as a picture ID, must be presented to any one of five dispensaries in the state of Florida in order to obtain marijuana medicine. This can be done either at a dispensary location or with a convenient home delivery of the requested product.

The passage of Amendment 2 does two things. First, it will allow doctors to recommend high THC medical cannabis to all qualifying patients, not just those who are terminal. Second, it will increase the number of patients who may qualify for medical marijuana by expanding the qualifying diagnosis list to include other diseases like: PTSD, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s Disease, MS, and as written in the amendment, “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

“This gives Florida-approved physicians like myself considerable leeway in determining which conditions would meet those criteria,” says board-certified, Cleveland Clinic-trained physician Lora Brown. MD.

Dr. Brown is already certified as a medical marijuana doctor in Florida and has multiple patients already benefitting from medical marijuana.

The medical use of cannabis (also known as marijuana) dates back to 2700 BC when Chinese Emperor Shen Yun was said to discover its medicinal properties. Although its medicinal use persisted throughout history, it was not until 1964 that THC was first isolated and synthesized from the cannabis plant by Isreali scientist,  Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. Having dedicated his career to this subject, Dr. Mechoulam is now known as the father of cannabinoid research.

Cannabinoids are the active ingredients of marijuana. They act on receptors that exist throughout the body called endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are part of the human endocannabinoid system, which impacts physiologic processes affecting pain modulation, memory, appetite, plus anti-inflammatory effects and other immune system responses.

Of the more than 60 active ingredients identified in the marijuana plant, the two most extensively studied are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CDB (cannabidiol). The euphoria or “high” often associated with marijuana is a property of THC not CBD.  Both chemicals have various medicinal benefits. For example THC helps with nausea/vomiting, muscle spasm, pain and stimulates appetite. And CBD reduces seizures, spasms, pain, inflammation, and inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Combinations of THC and CBD have proven superior in clinical research.

“The availability of medical marijuana is a breakthrough for Florida patients. This will significantly improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of people. I have treated chronic pain for years and have seen the tragedy of opioid medications. Medical marijuana is a herbal therapy that is safe and has never caused a lethal outcome,” says Lora Brown, MD medical director of Access Marijuana RX, a new medical practice established to serve patients across the state with high quality and compassionate care.

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