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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER:  CANNABIS LAW REPORT

 This is part 2 of a series of 10 articles we are publishing by Heather Allman  on Florida’s Medical Cannabis Landscape.

Read Part 1: Lighting Up Florida’s Medical Marijuana PEOPLE: The Front Lines

Part 2: Lighting Up Florida’s Medical Marijuana PEOPLE: The Medics Series, Part 1

Can the most recent onslaught of June 28, 2019 OMMU Registry changes blow some necessary steam into the rapidly developing Florida edibles market?

Can we keep our newly smokable flower power rolling effortlessly into the advancing edible market?

Federally and in Florida’s state medical marijuana, good cannabis industry questions have few concrete answers.

No state can have a successful, sustainable medical marijuana program without The Medics, dedicated physicians who work hard to give patients the necessary help, treatment, and access they need to thrive in their daily lives.

This team extends to the dispensaries that vitally supply patients with the state-allowed cannabis products to fill the physician’s recommendation, or order.

For interested parties currently residing outside the state of Florida, a comprehensive overview of Florida’s state government is provided.

Who’s Who in Florida Government published by Spectrum News Staff and updated on Feb. 28, 2019 gives valuable background on the State of Florida in its Latest from Tallahassee, the state Capitol, including:

  • Overall context of state department roles
  • Outlined structure for the State’s various internal departments
  • Explanation of each department
  • List of department employees, elected and appointed
  • Find Florida Lawmakers and look up contact information
  • Important rules, public statements, press releases official state announcements
  • Insight about their intersecting charges regarding the expanding industry.

On the Florida Medical Marijuana state lead is the Department of Health and its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, but the DOH works directly in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Florida’s volatile cannabis arena.

This article series aims to address specific aspects of the Florida Medical Marijuana Registry program and the current state cannabis landscape at large:

  • Who are the Marijuana Medics in Florida?
  • Who are the patients they treat using cannabis as medicine?
  • Why do these dedicated physicians choose to get further CME medical marijuana training and certification?
  • What do these physicians do as Florida CME physicians work as medical practitioners in the state?
  • How does a CME physicians practice marijuana medicine?
  • How and where can interested parties access the invaluable public information these certified physicians learn?
  • What does it mean to be a vertically-integrated Florida dispensary of medical cannabis products?

The medical cannabis training these specialized CME physicians receive from the state is readily accessible for the public, including all Florida state medical cannabis certification physician qualifications and official answers:

What are the next steps for newly-certified medical marijuana physician?

Upon successful completion of the Florida physican CME training, a physician proceeds to immediately update this new medical specialization information with the Florida Division of Medical Quality Assurance.

Patients in need of Florida’s rapidly advancing legal cannabis medication can then search the state’s CME physician database, call for information, and ultimately schedule an initial cannabis patient qualification appointment at a particular practice, or MMTC of their choice.

 During this required update timeframe, physicians often pause briefly to deliberate the choice: what are the implications of being an integral part of Florida’s burgeoning therapeutic cannabis medicine practice?

Membership in the widespread MMTC FL state system offers the most clinical practice hours, and a physician begins seeing possible medical marijuana patients immediately.

Newly-licensed CME physicians can easily update their designated specialized certification online at www.FLHealthSource.gov.

Upon login, individual account access appears in the upper right corner of the screen, and physicians can directly email questions to [email protected].

But this job as a state-recognized cannabis physician hinges solely on a vertical integration business model, which includes licensed cannabis businesses in Florida.

These state-licensed cannabis companies are called “dispensaries.”

The Florida Department of Health regulates medical marijuana in Florida and is the agency that issues all required licenses. Visit the Florida Department of Health for further information.

These licensed dispensaries must be complete seed-to-sale companies who also provide healthcare to qualified medical cannabis patients by dispensing a patient’s desired product, in the desired delivery route.

These vital, end-line dispensary employees help fit desired cannabis medication products into a patient’s individual money framework. 

That is, these licensed companies eventually dispense a patient’s doctor-issued recommendation by first planting and cultivating medical cannabis before processing and packaging it.

Simultaneously, Florida dispensaries must strive to train efficient, knowledgeable store employees, called Wellness Coordinatorsor “budtenders.”

These necessary individuals present the finished state-certified cannabis product on the dispensary’s shelves in an appealing manner.

These end-line employees smartly and safely sell, or “dispense,” the cannabis product to the patient and consumer per the physician’s recommendation in the Registry.

In early 2014, I began my cannabis advocacy and education, enthralled that a single naturally occurring plant has such phenomenal health benefit potential.

Noted by Enedina Stanger Ramos for the U.S. Pain Foundation’s INvisible Project:

“patients using marijuana find a natural synergy with nature… the veracity of herbs as medicine has never been disputed; the argument is in naming the right herbs that can be called ‘medical.’

Medical cannabis has endless therapeutic possibilities, and by January 2017, I was a qualified Florida Medical Marijuana patient. In the following months, I decreaed my pharmaceutical intake, stopped opioid pain management completely, and increased my overall mental clarity and quality of life.

 In her timely April 2019 Baltimore Magazine article, Lydia Woolever reports from the national trenches in A New Leaf:

“If you had told us 30 years ago that we would be able to legally purchase marijuana in the state of Maryland and then knots to distant future, we probably think you were blowing smoke.”

Yet the United States is poised on the tallest cannabis precipice with no “Green Wave” descent in sight.

Headlines on July 8, 2019 proudly boast that Congressional Democrats “Tout Marijuana Legalization In Election Campaign Petition,” with 80% of the nation having some type of state cannabis legalization.

Several other national legalization petition campaigns are underway, including the recent one to be delivered to Senator Elizabeth Warren from Amend.it. Over half of the required 500 signatures have already been collected.

An objective view on both sides of sweeping national cannabis legislation hails from the insightful ProCon.org – “Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option.”

ProCon’s detached overview on the complex medical marijuana issue is refefreshing, as they present the contentious issue of marijuana therapeutic treatment in a straightforward, nonpartisan format, making bigger strides in the awareness arena through neutrality.

At its core, the medical cannabis issue is none of these things. Remaining, rather, a heated debate charged with division, opinion, and scientific ignorance.

Most Americans are operating mostly blind when talking about medical cannabis. Knowledge is indeed power.

A successful state medical marijuana program also cannot exist without the cooperation of many cities, towns, municipalities, and communities all pitching in by providing medical cannabis product to patients.

All of our state MMTC FL licensed clinics and dispensaries incorporate the lofty goals of both patient and product availability (access) and affordability (cost).

The MMTC and their physicians positively contribute to the community in such events as Florida A & M University (FAMU)’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) Third Community Forum in Pensacola on July 9, 2019.

This event was “part of its mission to educate and inform the state’s diverse communities about medical marijuana. 

The national Capitol Soup likewise noticed the forum and its potential to set state precedence:

“The MMERI was launched in response to the Florida Legislature’s funding allocation to educate “minorities about marijuana for medical use and the impact of the unlawful use of marijuana on minority communities.” As part of the 2017 legislation, FAMU receives $10 for every $75 identification card purchased by individuals approved to buy medical marijuana.” 

CHART: Marijuana Business DailyDiversification enhances the cannabis market.