Certified marijuana physicians are lacking in Florida, according to a Gainesville doctor, because physicians are very confused and nervous about getting the certification to prescribe medical marijuana to patients. All doctors that became certified based off of the laws passed in 2014, have to go through the new certification which is only two hours long. However, the one place that seems to offer the course, states that it is not yet available. Have you been able to track down a certified Florida medical marijuana physician near you?
Medical insurance doesn’t cover it, and fewer than a dozen local physicians can prescribe it, but the medical marijuana business is quickly — if quietly — growing in Gainesville.
And though business is growing, the first physician in Gainesville to recommend the use of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, Dr. Justin Davis, said many of his peers remain leery about getting the license to write orders for medical marijuana.
“There are only a relatively small number of doctors licensed to write orders for medical marijuana because the rules and regulations governing the practice are confusing, cumbersome and intimidating to a lot of doctors, said Davis, a Gainesville-based family physician with Florida Marijuana Doctors, tucked into office space on Northwest 41st Street.
Gov. Rick Scott provided some clarity in late June to the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative when he signed Senate Bill 8A governing the law’s rules and regulations. The initiative, billed as Amendment 2 on the general election ballot last November, was approved by 71 percent of voters.
The law Scott signed June 23 allows patients to use cannabis pills, oils, edibles and “vape” pens with a doctor’s approval, but bans smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes.
It also eliminated a 90-day waiting period for patients to get their orders filled that was written into law by the Legislature when it passed the Compassionate Medical Cannibas Act in 2014, which first legalized medical marijuana in Florida. The act gave doctors some authority in marijuana treatments for certain patients with non-THC forms of the plant, and mandated that medical marijuana with THC in it could only be prescribed those suffering with terminal illnesses.
Tetrahydrocannabilol, THC, is the main psychoactive substance found in marijuana.
The law governing medical marijuana signed by Scott expanded the types of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana with THC to include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, chronic nonmalignant pain and terminal illnesses.
Knox Medical, at 3400 SW 34th St., last month became the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in Gainesville.
Knox sells its medical marijuana products for $45 for 300 milligrams and $90 for 600 milligrams in the form of oils and vapor cartridges, according to its website.
Dr. Caroline Rains of Compassionate Care Clinics of America in Gainesville, located in the same building as Knox Medical, has been licensed to write orders for medical marijuana since early April.
“We have seen more than 100 patients,” said Rains, who worked at the Alachua County Health Department for nearly 30 years. “We have seen a steady stream of patients since I started Compassionate Care Clinic in April.”
Rebecca Groom, Compassionate Care Clinic’s office manager, said about 200 patients have visited Rains seeking recommendations to get their medical marijuana identification cards, which allows them to receive written orders for medical marijuana.