Can I Get a Florida Medical Marijuana Card for Chronic Migraine Headaches?
Florida Medical Marijuana (also referred to as “weed” or “cannabis”) has been helping both residents and snow-birds manage debilitating health conditions and their related symptoms since it was legalized in 2016. Many conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, cancer, and multiple sclerosis will qualify you for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card. In order to see if you could be eligible for a medical cannabis recommendation, take this survey to find out within minutes!
DocMJ’s team of compassionate Qualified Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors and support team are here to help guide you or your loved one along your medical cannabis journey. Book a risk-free appointment today to start the process of becoming a Florida medical cannabis patient.
What is a Chronic Migraine?
A migraine is a type of headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.  Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
One or two days before a migraine, you might notice subtle changes that warn of an upcoming migraine, like constipation, mood changes, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and/or frequent yawning.
A migraine usually lasts from four to 72 hours if untreated and they might occur rarely or strike several times a month. During a migraine, one could experience pain usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides; pain that throbs or pulses; sensitivity to light and sound; nausea and vomiting
After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused and washed out for up to a day. Some people report feeling elated. Sudden head movement might bring on the pain again briefly.
What Causes Chronic Migraines?
Though the causes of migraines are not fully understood, genetics and environmental factors play a role. Both changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve could be involved, and it could also be from imbalances in brain chemicals — like serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system.
Migraine disease could be caused by endocannabinoid deficiency
There is a theory that some people who suffer from migraines could have a deficiency in the natural endocannabinoids that their bodies produce – also known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD).
Our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating many physiological and cognitive processes, such as memory, appetite, metabolism, immune response, and pain sensation.  If there are not enough endocannabinoids produced naturally to keep our ECS receptors working properly, there will be an imbalance that can result in other issues.
Ethan Russso, a neurologist and cannabinoid researcher, hypothesized that CECD could be an underlying cause of certain chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and even migraines. If true, then introducing phytocannabinoids that are found in cannabis, like THC and CBD, could help manage and maintain migraine frequency and severity.
Using Cannabis for Migraine Symptoms
The medical properties of the cannabis plant come from their chemical composition. The main components are phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These work together to produce medical relief and strain specific effects. The cultivar, or strain, of cannabis is determined by the formulation of the main three components as well. Each strain has a unique profile that will generate different side effects from the medicine, such as pain relief, creativity, laughter, anxiety, and even fatigue.
A new study from the University of Colorado, Boulder published in January of 2021 demonstrates that cannabis can be a helpful alternative for treating these extreme headaches. According to the results, migraine sufferers who have used both cannabis and prescription treatments for their migraines say that cannabis works better at bringing on relief.
Out of 589 cannabis-using adults, 161 (or 27.3%) reported that they did experience migraines, and out of those 123 (or 76.4%) said that they use cannabis specifically for treating them. The average reported relief with cannabis was 75.82% while non-cannabis products were only reported to bring an average improvement of 51.01%.
Additionally, in November 2019 a study was published in the Journal of Pain reporting that cannabis could reduce migraine and headache severity by 50%, and that cannabis use does not exacerbate headaches or migraines over time. Concentrates appeared to offer more significant relief than flowers.
Another retrospective study published in 2019 found that 88.3% of a sample of 279 patients reported an improvement in their headaches after using marijuana products. More than half of the participants noted a reduction in headache frequency, and 38.3% found that their sleep improved. Fifty percent of those using opioid medications were able to reduce their doses.
Traditional Treatments for Migraines
While medical cannabis can be an effective option for treating the symptoms from migraines, not everyone has access to these products. Traditionally, migraine treatment is focused on stopping symptoms and preventing attacks from happening. A physician can choose to give their migraine patients both preventative medications or pain-relieving ones. The type of treatment will depend on the frequency and intensity of the headaches. 
If prescribed medications to relieve migraine pain, they will work best when taken at the first sign one is coming. Medications that can be used to treat them include:
- Pain relievers: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen. When taken too long, these might cause medication-overuse headaches, and possibly ulcers and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Opioids: People who have migraines who can not take other medications, narcotic opioid medications, might help. However, these medications can be highly addictive, so they are usually used only if no other treatments are effective.
- Triptans: Prescription drugs like sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosyma) and rizatriptan (Maxalt) are prescription drugs used for migraine because they block pain pathways in the brain that can be taken as pills, shots or nasal sprays.
- Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal): These come in either a nasal spray or an injection and are most effective when taken shortly after the start of migraine symptoms. Side effects can include worsening of migraine-related vomiting and nausea.
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow): This new oral tablet is approved for the treatment of migraine with or without aura by improving pain as well as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. It shouldn’t be taken with alcohol or other drugs that depress the central nervous system.
- Anti-nausea medications: Some people experience nausea and vomiting with their migraines. Anti-nausea medications, like chlorpromazine, metoclopramide (Reglan) or prochlorperazine (Compro) can help suppress these symptoms.These can help if your migraine with aura is accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
For those who experience migraines more frequently or do not respond well to other treatment, a preventative medication could help keep them at bay.
Preventive medication is focused on reducing the frequency at which a migraine occurs, how severe the attacks are, as well as how long they last. Options include:
- Botox injections: Injections of Botox, or onabotulinumtoxinA about every 12 weeks help prevent migraines in some adults.
- Blood pressure-lowering medications: These include beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL, others) and metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor).
- Anti-seizure drugs: Both valproate and topiramate could help those with less frequent migraines, but can result in side effects like dizziness, weight changes, nausea and more.
If you do not have access to medical marijuana products but are not interested in taking prescribed medications from your physician, talk with them about the following alternative options:
- Acupuncture: In this treatment, a practitioner inserts many thin, disposable needles into several areas of your skin at defined points. Clinical trials have found that acupuncture may be helpful for headache pain.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback seems to be effective in relieving migraine pain. It uses special equipment to show how to monitor and control certain physical responses related to stress, like muscle tension.
- Herbs, vitamins and minerals: There is some evidence that the herbs feverfew might prevent migraines or reduce their severity. A high dose of vitamin B-2 may also prevent migraines and coenzyme Q10 supplements might decrease the frequency of them. Due to low magnesium levels in some people with migraines, magnesium supplements have been used, but have mixed results.
Steps to Getting a Florida Medical Marijuana Card
In order to be able to legally purchase and use medical marijuana products in Florida, you must first have qualified for a Medical Marijuana Card. A Qualified Patient must:
- Be a permanent or seasonal Florida resident
- Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a qualified physician
- Be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry
- Obtain a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card
While migraines is not a specified condition that makes you eligible for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card, they do result in chronic nonmalignant pain. Additionally, there are other conditions that can qualify Floridians for a medical marijuana card. They are listed as: 
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to the others listed.
- A terminal condition diagnosed by a physician other than the qualified physician issuing the physician certification.
- Chronic nonmalignant pain caused by a qualifying medical condition or that originates from a qualifying medical condition and persists beyond the usual course of that qualifying medical condition.
If after reading the above you are still unsure if you qualify for your Florida medical marijuana card, this survey will tell you if you could be eligible. To take the next step, book a risk-free appointment with a qualified Florida Medical Marijuana Physician.
If at the end of your appointment it is determined that you are not eligible per state guidelines, you will be issued a full refund. At the end of your appointment, you must apply for a Florida Medical Marijuana Card through the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. This typically takes around 2 weeks to process and once approved you are able to purchase medical marijuana products for a state-licensed dispensary location.
Lastly, if you have any additional questions or concerns about the process, the laws, or anything else, call DocMJ at 888-908-0143.
Dr. Glider is a board certified Internal Medicine Specialist. He received his Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Certification in 2017 and was one of the first recommending physicians with DocMJ. In addition to medical marijuana recommendations, Dr. Glider continues to practice Internal and Geriatric Medicine in private practice. Additionally, he serves as Medical Director for a home health company, supervising and educating staff, as well as supervising an advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners for a transitional care program.
Dr. Glider graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery in Des Moines, IA and completed his residency at Saddlebrook General Hospital in Saddlebrook, NJ. He has received several honors and awards throughout his professional career, including a City of Des Moines Merit Award and a Chamber of Commerce Award (Port St. Lucie, FL). Dr. Glider is an experienced and caring physician who is loved and respected by his peers and his patients.