In the past few years the social consciousness around marijuana has changed significantly. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans are in favor of full legalization now. As of last November, 29 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana and Florida is one of those states. This year, the state has faced an expansion of the pre-existing medical marijuana industry. Florida has the 3rd biggest population in the country with almost 21 million people living there. Approximately 1/5 of that population are residents who are over the age of 65. Medical marijuana has developed an overwhelming reputation for its ability to help heal degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and chronic pain. The elderly residents are prime subjects to benefit from the newly expanded industry.
Changes Fast track Medical Marijuana
Over 1,200 physicians have been licensed to recommend marijuana to patients with qualifying medical conditions and approximately 20 licenses are being distributed each day. Before the voters approved the expansion last November, there were less than 300 licensed doctors in the state. Dispensaries and doctor’s clinics have also been showing up all across the country. The industry is growing so fast that Governor Rick Scott decided to get rid of the mandatory 90 day waiting period for the arrival of a patient’s medical marijuana card. Patients must now wait 30 days to get their medical marijuana cards. With such a high rate of expansion and engagement in the program, Florida is expected to make over $1 billion from medical marijuana by 2020.
Demand Exceeding Supply
The number of medical marijuana patients is expected to rise from 30,000 to 50,000 at a very rapid rate. Medical marijuana’s rise in popularity has a downside although one that can possibly be amended in time. The state has not been able to keep up with the current demand. In some instances, prescriptions have not been able to be filled and some patients have even had to wait months to receive their medical marijuana cards. According to the Miami Herald, patients and doctors alike have expressed deep frustration at the slow rate the state at which the state is processing the new industry.
Attempts to Improve the System
Mara Gambineri, a Department of Health spokeswoman, has admitted that they weren’t equipped to manage the growing rate of the program but she has assured the public that they are working to deal with the problem. “We continue to receive a significant amount of applications and calls,” Gambineri wrote in an email. “As the program continues to grow, we agree that it is not sustainable to handle in house long-term, which is why we are outsourcing these functions as directed by law. However, while we work through the procurement process, we continue to do our best to process applications and respond to inquiries in a timely manner.”
It may take some time to get the program working at a reasonable rate and functioning in an optimum way but at least it seems to be heading in that direction with patients in the state ultimately receiving the care they need.