Why get a medical marijuana card?
Light it up. Watch the herb burn. Inhale. Release. Enchanting patterns of the smoke hold my attention as I feel my anxiety ease. I’ve been self-medicating Marijuana for a little over two years; I didn’t care that it was illegal at the time that I started using cannabis, all I cared about was how I felt afterward. I felt free from my ailment. No need to take pills that could do more harm than good; or deal with painful side effects that pharmaceuticals cause.
The thought of getting caught, however, resided in the back of my mind for a while; not to mention the negative stigma that cannabis, and its users, carry. Luckily, the trepidation of getting caught with medical marijuana has an easy solution nowadays.
On Nov 8th, 2016 the state of Florida legalized the use of medical marijuana, though it didn’t go into effect until March of 2017; the endorsement to the use of medical cannabis opened the doors to an alternative treatment for many different conditions. Patients that are seeking a natural and alternative medicine to the condition they are facing can register for a medical marijuana card by starting here. It’s important to remember that while the use of medical marijuana is allowed in the state of Florida, the federal law still classifies cannabis as a schedule 1 drug. Acquiring a medical marijuana card can make a patient’s life easier by offering them legal protection, so they can use their medication, avoiding any legal issues regarding the responsible, use and possession of cannabis. Furthermore, depending on the state of residency, a medical marijuana card also permits patients to cultivate their own medicine.
The Florida Health Department issues medical cannabis cards after a qualified physician has evaluated the patient, following Amendment 2 of the constitution, and if the patient suffers from a condition that renders him or her eligible for one. Once the card is issued, patients have access to the medicine through “facilities such as marijuana dispensaries, collectives, wellness centers, and clinics.”
How to start the process?
Start by checking to see if you’re qualified; the home page will give you the option to look up a clinic that is near your zip code. Once you find a clinic that is closest to you, request an appointment by providing dates and times that are most convenient for you; facilities are located all throughout Florida. After following the instructions and submitting your request, you will receive an email letting you know that the appointment needs to be verified by the staff; within a few hours of filing the petition, a second email is sent confirming the appointment. This email has essential information regarding the documentation you will need to bring along on the day of your office: a form of identification, a patient intake form, and medical records & history.
Proof of Florida residence
You will need to bring with you a form of identification to prove that you are a Florida resident. A driver’s license or any other official Florida state identification card will suffice; it is crucial that your identification is updated and matches the address where you currently live. If the driver’s license doesn’t match your current residence, it will slow down the process of getting your medical marijuana card. If you are in the process of getting an updated driver’s license, you may bring along a utility bill to further support your proof of residency.
Patient intake form
A standard form where you provide the clinic with your information, such as your full name, date of birth, current address, email, social security number, etc. You can opt to fill out the form online; the email provides you with a link that will take you to the patient intake questionnaire; once you complete the form, it is directly saved in their system. Filling out the form online will save you time once you arrive at the office.
Medical records & History
As with any doctor’s appointment, it is always helpful to provide your doctor with as much information about your condition as possible. Any documentation that you have will make diagnosing and recommending a treatment plan a lot easier. Therefore, remember to bring along any medical records or documentation of treatment history to your appointment. You can also fax your medical documents in advance; the email will provide you with the fax number of the office where you made the appointment.
At the appointment
The first evaluation will be $199 if you pay in person; however, paying online will bring down the price to $169. They offer a 30% off for veterans, and if you sing up for their newsletter, they will announce the monthly deals for a particular condition. The initial payment will cover the medical evaluation, and three different recommendations for medical cannabis, which will last for seven months. After the seven month period, you will need to go back for a reevaluation, as per state law, the price for the reassessment is $159. You should start a renewal card application forty-five days from when your current card expires.
When you walk into the office, the front desk personnel will kindly guide through the registration process to start the application for your medical marijuana certification. You will have to create a profile at the office of medical marijuana, where you will upload a full-face picture, typically the same image on your ID, a copy of your driver’s license, your full name and contact information; lastly, you will be provided with a patient number. Once you are done creating your profile, you will make a $75 payment to the Department of Health.
The length of the physician’s evaluation is between 15-30 minutes, depending on the consultation and any questions or concerns you may have.
When you walk out of your appointment, keep in mind that it may take up to 18 days for your online application to be processed. Once the application is accepted, you will receive an email that will serve as a temporary verification of your approval to a medical marijuana card; you may print this email and use it with a photo ID to obtain your medication until your medical cannabis card arrives. The certification allows you to purchase, consume, possess, and transport medical marijuana.
Floridamarijuana.net reached out to Dr. Carr, MD, one of the physicians available at Marijuana Doctor to ask a few questions regarding her experience working at the clinics available to medical marijuana patients.
Florida marijuana (FM): How long have you been practicing medicine?
Dr. Carr: I have been practicing family medicine for ten years now.
FM: What motivated you to you to start working with Marijuana Doctor?
Dr. Carr: I have a family member that was diagnosed with clinical depression, the pharmaceuticals that he was on weren’t showing much improvement. I realized his condition qualified him for medical cannabis; I saw significant improvement with his condition once he started using medical marijuana. Soon after that, I decided to help my patients get a more natural form of treatment for their conditions.
FM: How many patients a day would you say come into the clinics?
Dr. Carr: I’d say we average 15-20 patients a day.
FM: How do you determine what treatment the patient may qualify for?
Dr. Carr: It depends on the condition the patient has, and a lot of it is personal preference; we cater to the patient’s needs, and what they feel comfortable with. For example, a patient dealing with diabetes may benefit from a topical treatment; same for a patient with neuropathy. I have also noticed that a lot of female patients prefer topical creams more than men.
FM: What are the most common conditions that patients come in for?
Dr. Carr: I’d say we see a high percentage of patients with chronic pain. Many patients come in with a strong desire to get off opiates. As a healthcare physician, I am happy to be able to offer the patients I see a way out from their pain or substance dependence; especially when about 60,000 people are dying from an overdose. It’s gratifying to see my patients calmer and relieved of their symptoms, which in turn allows them to lead a healthier lifestyle.