Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states as of the November election in 2016. One of the most recent states to legalize the medical option was the Sunshine State of Florida. While the state legislation is still trying to decide on the best way to implement the medical marijuana program, doctors across the state are already starting to offer recommendations for patients with qualifying conditions. What conditions qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation, and how can you get one if you need it?

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Recommendation in Florida
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Conditions Covered by Amendment 2

The following conditions are outlined in the amendment:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Epilepsy
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer

Physicians can also provide medical marijuana recommendations for other qualifying conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic migraine/headaches
  • Back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Lyme disease
  • Severe and/or chronic pain
  • Any terminal or debilitating condition

Once diagnosed, physicians can offer marijuana recommendations to their patients for either a low-THC cannabis product or standard medical cannabis.

Types of Cannabis Products

There are currently two types of cannabis products that have been currently been approved for use in the state. Low-THC cannabis products can be prescribed for anyone who has a qualifying condition as diagnosed by an approved physician. Medical cannabis can only be prescribed for patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition and had that diagnosis confirmed by a second physician.

The state has made it difficult to obtain medical marijuana, passing a law in May that banned nearly every form of the drug, including smoking, vaping and edibles. The failure of the state legislature has left the state’s Department of Health to determine the best way to fully implement the medical marijuana program.

Recommendation Qualifications

The qualifications for obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation are as follows:

  • You must be a permanent resident of the state of Florida. You will likely be asked to provide proof of residence, such as a driver’s license, house deed or rental lease.
  • You must have an established relationship with your state registered physician for at least 90 days.
  • You must either be of legal age (18+) or show a consent form.

How to Receive a Medical Marijuana Recommendation

There are six steps you will need to follow in order to obtain and maintain a medical marijuana recommendation in the state of Florida:

  1. Find a physician who is willing to make medical marijuana recommendations and has been registered with the state for at least 90 days. Then, make an appointment for an in-person exam and evaluation.
  2. Get a copy of your medical records from your primary care physician. This will make your evaluation easier on the new doctor. Otherwise, you’ll spend hours answering questions and may find that you need to request your medical records anyway.
  3. Sign a written informed consent stating that you consent you use marijuana for medical purposes. If you are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian will need to be present to sign the consent form for you.
  4. Maintain the relationship with your recommending physician for 90 days. After that time has passed, if you have a qualifying condition, you can obtain a recommendation from your doctor.
  5. Once you have a recommendation, your doctor will register your information with the Compassionate Use Registry and you will be assigned a Patient Registry ID number. The medical marijuana product you can access will depend on your diagnosis.
  6. You will need to renew your recommendation every 45 days as it expires. Your doctor will need to re-enter your recommendation into the Compassionate Use Registry as it expires.

Some physicians don’t require you to come back into the office to renew your recommendation. They instead offer an automatically renewing subscription style service to be more convenient. The specifics of the renewal process will depend on your doctor alone.

It is important to note that while medical marijuana has been legalized on the state level, it is still illegal according to federal law. As such, even medical cannabis friendly doctors cannot prescribe the drug. It can only be recommended.