With the numbers now in through May in Florida, the state health department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use reports that it is blazing through somewhere around 5,400 new MMJ patient applications each week.
Some quick math tells you that at this rate, the Sunshine State stands to add somewhere between 250,000 – 300,000 new legally registered medical marijuana patients over the course of the next year alone.
Sure enough, they’ve already got 91,000 of them on the books according to a new article by Glenn Garvin of 420 Magazine, and those 91k are buying up 56 pounds of Florida’s finest cannabis each week.
It has been about a year and a half since over 71% of Florida voters passed Amendment 2 to the left hand side to allow medical marijuana. Finally, the hamstrung program is showing some signs of life despite the fact that it is still illegal to…ya know…actually smoke your weed there.
Only 37 dispensaries serve the state legally, and they are mostly concentrated on the coasts and in large cities. Currently only five companies are allowed to open a dispensary in the state and those 37 shops belong to that exclusive group.
There are 46,000 licensed physicians in Florida, but in order to be able to legally recommend that a patient use medical marijuana, the state originally mandated that interested docs take an 8 hour class and pay about $1000 for the right to do what’s best for their patients.
None signed up.
The state slashed the fee to $250 and cut the class down to just an hour and still the response was tepid.
Regardless, there are 1,400 pot docs licensed in the state and between them and the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, they have the application approval process streamlined down to around 2 weeks.
Those docs not down with pot are still scribbling prescriptions for patients in pain, the results of which continue to be catastrophic. Opioid-related emergency room visits in Florida increased 32.3% between 2009 and 2014 and there were 2,664 opioid-related deaths recorded in just the first 6 months of 2016.
Of course, 2016 is when they passed their new MMJ laws, so in a few years it will be interesting to look back and see how the loosening of cannabis laws affects the opioid abuse rates in Florida.
Those numbers are already available in states with robust legal cannabis industries and in one after another cannabis proves to lower the dependence, abuse, and addiction numbers with regard to pharmaceutical pain pills.
Edibles, tinctures, topicals, sprays… these are all legitimate ways to deliver cannabinoids and terps to your system. But for most cannabis users, smoking or vaping is a must so it is imperative that the state goes forward with lifting the ban on these age-old methods for getting the full benefit from the plant.
The dabs are loaded, the bowls are packed, the joints are rolled – Florida just needs a spark.