Medical marijuana was legalized in Florida more than 2 years ago with many expecting that the herb would be made available to residents in 2015. Unfortunately, the process was slowed down considerably due to administrative issues and legal problems. Finally, after many delays, the state has now approved its first medical cannabis dispensary. Tallahassee’s Trulieve and Hackney Nursery was informed by the Department of Health on Wednesday that they now have approval to process and dispense medical marijuana. The nursery, located in Gadsden County in Northwest Florida, is just the first of 6 dispensaries that will be licensed across the state.
Meeting Demands After the Long Overdue Approval
The CEO of the medical cannabis dispensary, Kim Rivers, said “There has been a great responsibility and pressure to get this done as quickly as possible. Patients have waited too long. The most important thing is to be able to have it available for patients who have a dire need for it.” They have stated that they will begin taking orders for patients within Florida almost immediately and that deliveries will take approximately 1 week to reach patients. The Tallahassee medical cannabis dispensary will open for in store customer sales next Tuesday.
Low THC is the Only Current Option
Now patients that suffer from debilitating conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, chronic seizures and muscle spasms can access marijuana. Patients would need to contact one of the 15 doctors who are on the state registry and, if their physician believes they qualify, they can get on the state registry and order medical marijuana. For now, a low-THC form of cannabis is the only kind legally available. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, known to produce the “high” or euphoria associated with the herb. A high-THC marijuana was legalized earlier this year for those suffering from terminal illnesses and a form of this cannabis will be available for patients next month.
No Smoke with a Florida Medical Cannabis Dispensary
The medical marijuana is still not legal to be sold in any smokeable forms. For now, it is legally available and will be sold by Trulieve as concentrated oil, tinctures, gel capsules and vape cartridges. The laws may be updated in coming years, as the DEA looks at either rescheduling or descheduling marijuana this year. Currently it is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is in the highest risk drug category, federally illegal with no medicinal benefits. At this point, medical marijuana has been legalized in 25 states and recreational marijuana has been legalized in 4 states and D.C., with 8 more states voting on this issue in this November ballot.
If the DEA changes the scheduling of the herb this year as promised, the laws across the entire country may change to adapt to their decision regarding its classification. Descheduling will put it in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol and rescheduling could put it in the same category as prescription pills. For now, patients with serious conditions will be able to begin to get relief and, as more dispensaries open and more registered doctors become available, the process should get easier.