Upon doing research before embarking on my cannabis journey to wellness, and throughout the qualifying process for myself, I found that there are a lot of discrepancies. It seems there is no congruency for the application process. Every recommending physician in the state of Florida can set up their office however they deem fit. There were questions that I began asking while calling around to see about qualifying, and this is what allowed me to have a full understanding of the program.

The first question I asked was, “What is the ANNUAL COST?”  Well it varies, some Doctors’ offices that I spoke to have an initial fee, but others charge for every order authorization.  I soon learned that order authorization is like a prescription. This is what allows you to purchase medication on a predetermined schedule. Some physicians have schedules set for every 30 days and others every 70 days, etc. Some require multiple follow up appointments; which you guessed it, have additional fees. The frequency that you are seen at a cannabis clinic is set by the individual physician, however, the state of Florida only requires physicians to see patients twice a year. It is also not a requirement of the State of Florida for the physician to see patients prior to every order authorization. If you are a patient in this position, you are probably paying an additional fee with no benefit to you as a patient.   I also learned there are significant differences when it comes to fees. The lowest was $250 while some physicians charge upwards of $1000 for an annual recommendation.

As a Florida medical marijuana patient and someone who works in the cannabis industry, it is so disheartening to find out how many people are unknowingly getting taken advantage of.

I also experienced a lack of knowledge and experience from qualifying physicians. To be honest, it really isn’t their fault for not having the practical knowledge considering cannabis is not part of any normal curriculum for doctors. Physicians who have a license to recommend cannabis in the state of Florida are only required to go through an online educational course. With so much misinformation and false propaganda online it is difficult for the physician to further their research with any sort of confidence.

In addition, when it comes to patient education and having a caregiver program there is a huge disconnect in our state compared to other medical marijuana states.  In other states there are programs that allow caregivers, similar to cannabis consultants, who can make recommendations and guide inexperienced users. In Florida currently, there is not a program in place for a true “care giver program”. Unfortunately, patients with little to no cannabis experience tend to slip through the cracks and do not have the best results utilizing the products because there is no guidance.  Maybe that is why in our state we have a total number of 209,940 card holders and only 167,211 active patient users.

The most important thing that I have found throughout my experience is that you as a patient need to be your own advocate. As the industry evolves, and new products become available, patients should be able to try new things. We all know that everyone is unique, and possess an endocannabinoid system. The effects of cannabis can vary from patient to patient, especially taking into consideration that this is a multi-beneficial medication and it can help with a multitude of conditions. There are different variations of product, and with many different options of MMTC or Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to try. This program allows patients to try different products to see what will work best for them resulting in a more personalized approach. Doctors who do not have the practical experience, may struggle to make recommendations that provide you with relief. Know that this is a recommendation. You as a patient have the ability to try different strains and delivery systems to try and find the best product for your particular ailment.

In conclusion, finding a physician’s office with experience and knowledge can be a bit cumbersome, but fear not, there are places out there looking out for the patient’s wellbeing. You as a patient must be diligent and ask the important questions to ensure you are able to get the delivery systems and milligrams you require to have a successful cannabis experience. Alternative holistic treatment should be an available option to any qualifying patient in the state of Florida. As a patient I can resonate with the frustrations of qualifying, and utilizing the medical marijuana. As a cannabis consultant, I can tell you it doesn’t have to be so difficult. There are recommendation offices that can accommodate payment plans, places that have one-time payments, and some offices are as cost effective as $250.00 for the year, which seems much more reasonable for an annual fee. There are even one on one at home consultations offered as a separate service for patients who need additional guidance at Cannabis Theory’s in Sarasota. If you are currently a medical marijuana patient and you are unhappy with your recommending physician, you should consider changing to an office that can accommodate all your needs, research may be involved, and I encourage you to do so because there are offices that can and want to help.

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM Miami’s Community Newspapers

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