How do I get my medical card in Florida?

In Florida, medical marijuana first became legal in January 2017. However, it’s taken some time for an abundance of dispensaries to open across the state (thanks to the long, drawn-out process growers had to go through in order to open a legal medical dispensary). If you are a valid Florida resident (permanent or seasonal) getting your card might be easier than you think.

Qualifying Conditions: First, you must qualify for a medical card based on a particular medical condition (it was the first time I was actually happy to have Crohn’s). When medical marijuana became legal, the list of conditions were short (limited to Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, MS, and terminal conditions.) Florida has since opened it up to say that any ailment/condition “of the same severity/symptoms” as the ones listed above also qualify, in addition to chronic nonmalignant pain. The law also states that any medical condition in which the certified marijuana doctor deems the patient will benefit from the use of medical marijuana, and these benefits outweigh any potential side effects of marijuana, may also be used as criteria when applying. I’ve had friends get their card for anxiety, panic disorder, migraines, insomnia, depression, and arthritis to name a few common ailments. If you are unsure if your condition qualifies, a doctor that is registered in the state’s Medical Marijuana Use registry can provide more specific information.

Make an Appointment: Not all doctors are able to/want to prescribe medical marijuana. When I approached the subject with my GI doctor, he told me marijuana will rot my brain based on a single, 5 participant study he read last year. (I’ve found that many of my regular doctors cannot even tell me simple facts about cannabis or the endocannabinoid system, which is where my initial idea for Marijuana Mentor came from.) Luckily, I learned awhile back to be an advocate for my own health, and to do my own research. Their judgement and bias is not something that needs to stand in your way to wellness. If your regular doctor does not prescribe marijuana (it may be as simple as they will be dropped by their insurance), there is a list of over 2,500 doctors in the state that do. All you need is your medical records from your regular doctor, or a simple diagnosis written & signed for on their prescription pad, for an approved MMJ qualified physician to recommend you for a card. The cost of visits with an MMJ doctor can range, most between $150 – $250. Insurance, Medicare or Medicade cannot be used in the world of medical marijuana until it becomes legal on the federal level.

State Application: Once you’ve seen the doctor and marijuana has been recommended as the best form of treatment, you will have to submit an online application to the state. Some offices, including the one I visited (CannaCare Wellness), will fill out the application for you. The state charges $75 to process your application. There are dispensaries out there like Liberty Health Sciences that provides a $75 credit your first time in, to help offset that cost.

Approval: It can take upwards of 3 weeks for the Department of Health to review your application and issue your MMJ card. However, you should be emailed approval with all needed information to visit a dispensary within 5-7 business days.

Stay Compliant: Your medical card is only valid for 1 year. The state recommends renewing your card at least 45 days prior to the expiration so there is no lapse. This can be done online, and you will have to pay the $75 fee again. In regards to another doctors visit, each physician is different. Some want to check in more regularly to evaluate how cannabis is working for you, while others only require a yearly check-in.

Even when you know the steps to take, sometimes you need a little encouragement to enter the medical marijuana world. Unfortunately, there are still many unwarranted, negative connotations and judgments associated with cannabis. I read an article where a women was so stressed about her visit to the MMJ doctor, she didn’t sleep all night. I want to help remove some of that anxiety. Let me hold you hand and make up feel more comfortable with this process. Walking the path to wellness is always better with a friend.

Please note that I am not a medical doctor, and do not diagnose or treat any disease.

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