Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist

Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist

Medical Cannabis

Is Medical Marijuana a Legal Treatment for Me?

Beginning January 3, 2017, we will be able to recommend medical marijuana to patients with the additional conditions approved via Amendment 2. The new conditions that are considered eligible are:

  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Medical Marijuana continues to gain legal momentum across the United States as a viable – and effective – pain management treatment and a quantifiable alternative to opioids.

In Florida, SB 1030 was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott allowing for medical cannabis to be prescribed, known as the “Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014”.

The Office of Compassionate Use states the following:

Florida law permits qualified physicians to order low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with certain conditions. There are two types of cannabis products that may be ordered by qualified physicians:

1. Low-THC Cannabis: Patients with cancer or a condition that causes chronic seizures or muscle spasms may qualify to receive low-THC cannabis. Low-THC cannabis has very low amounts of the psychoactive ingredient THC and does not usually produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.

2. Medical Cannabis: If a patient is suffering from a condition determined to be terminal by two physicians, he or she may qualify for medical cannabis. This product can contain significant levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC and may produce the “high” commonly associated with cannabis.

The department recommends speaking to your health care professional to determine if low-THC or medical cannabis products are right for you or your loved one.


Medical Marijuana for Pain Management in South Florida

Patients diagnosed with cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms are eligible to receive a prescription for medical marijuana (though there are varying types of prescriptions, based on the specific condition of the patient).

Scientific research has shown that medical marijuana may be therapeutic for many conditions.

How Does Medical Marijuana Work?

Your body already makes marijuana-like chemicals that affect pain, inflammation, and many other processes. Marijuana can sometimes help those natural chemicals work better, says Laura Borgelt, PharmD, of the University of Colorado.

Marijuana has been used as a botanical medicine since (at least) the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, marijuana’s claim as a potential panacea is backed up by countless studies crediting its healing potential to its cannabidiol content.

Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body. As humans, we naturally have cannabinoid receptors in our brain, liver, immune system, lungs, and kidneys.

The therapeutic effects of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor.

There’s still ongoing research as to how far it impacts your health, but to date, research has shown that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth, and immune function. Medical use of marijuana has even been shown in some instances to reduce the size of tumors in some cancer patients.

Other common ailments being treated with medical marijuana in various states include*:

  • Mood disorders
  • Degenerative neurological disorders such as dystonia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Seizures
  • Chrohn’s disease
  • CBD works as an excellent painkiller and works well in treating anxiety issues
  • Cannabis oil, when applied topically, has been proven to heal sunburn overnight

Please note that currently, patients may only qualify for medical marijuana for:

  • Terminal illness
  • Chronic seizures
  • Chronic and severe muscle spasms
  • Cancer

How Do I Receive a Prescription for Medical Marijuana in South Florida?

In order to receive an order for low-THC medical marijuana, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Schedule a face-to-face consultation with a qualified physician who has undergone the training required to order cannabis for patients. Physicians may only order low-THC cannabis for a patient if he or she has treated that patient during the immediate preceding three months.
  2. The physician must determine that the risks of ordering low-THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the potential benefit for that patient. If a patient is younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur with this determination, and such determination must be documented in the patient’s medical record.
  3. The physician must obtain voluntary, informed consent in writing from the patient, or the patient’s legal guardian, to treatment with low-THC cannabis after sufficiently explaining the current state of knowledge in the medical community of the effectiveness of treatment of the patient’s condition with low-THC cannabis, the medically acceptable alternatives, and the potential risks and side effects.
  4. An ordering physician must enter an order of low-THC cannabis for the named patient into the Compassionate Use Registry, and update the registry to reflect the contents of the order. The physician must deactivate the patient’s registration when treatment is discontinued.
  5. The ordering physician must maintain a patient treatment plan that includes the dose, route of administration, planned duration, and monitoring of the patient’s symptoms and other indicators of tolerance or reaction to the order for low-THC cannabis. The physician submits the patient treatment plan quarterly to the University of Florida, College Of Pharmacy, for research on the safety and efficacy of low-THC cannabis on patients.
  6. Finally, a patient may fill their order at a qualified dispensing organization. The dispensing organization will verify the identity of the patient or legal representative, as well as the existence of an order in the Compassionate Use Registry. A dispensing organization may not dispense more than a 45-day supply of low-THC cannabis.

How Is Medical Marijuana Used?

In Florida, medical marijuana may be:

  • Vaporized (heated until active ingredients are released, but no smoke is formed)
  • Capsules
  • Tinctures
  • Oils
  • Creams
  • Sprays
  • Edible forms

Please note that the availability of the above applications vary between dispensaries.

Side Effects of Medical Marijuana to Consider

Side effects of marijuana that usually don’t last long can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Euphoria (note that euphoria is not a typical side effect of low-THC dosages)
  • More serious side effects include severe anxiety and psychosis. (note that anxiety and/or psychosis is not typical of low-THC dosages)

Important Information About Medical Marijuana in Florida

Please note that the use of medical marijuana in Doral, Florida (and the entire state) does NOT include the following:

  • The possession, use or administration of medical cannabis by smoking.
  • The transfer of medical cannabis to a person other than the qualified patient for whom it was ordered.
  • The use of medical cannabis on any form of public transportation, in any public place, in a qualified patient’s place of employment, if restricted by his or her employer, in a state correctional institution, on the grounds of a preschool, primary school, or secondary school or any school bus or vehicle.

Please note that we are only legally able to provide low-THC medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.