Florida’s pot patient count tops 50,000, Palm Beach County’s first dispensary set to open

More than 50,000 Floridians have registered for the state’s budding medical marijuana program, the Florida Department of Health says.

As of Nov. 8, some 50,775 patients had visited a doctor and paid for a state medical card. That puts Florida’s cannabis program 10 percent of the way to the half a million people that pot proponents expected to ultimately sign up.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County’s first cannabis dispensary is set to open Tuesday. Knox Medical’s store in Lake Worth plans to host a grand opening.  

Who is eligible for medical marijuana in Florida? 


Patients with cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain and other “debilitating” medical conditions can use marijuana with a doctor’s permission. 


How do I qualify?


For Floridians with severe illnesses, it takes just a few weeks and a few hundred dollars to buy weed legally. Patients who want to try weed start by visiting one of the 900-plus doctors who are permitted by the Florida Department of Health to recommend cannabis. Prices vary, but the initial visit typically costs about $200. If the physician signs off, the patient applies to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use for a state ID card, which costs $75.


More info: A patient’s guide to Florida’s pot program


Where do I buy medical cannabis?

Florida regulators have approved seven companies to grow, process and sell medical marijuana. Cannabis producers are allowed to deliver pot to patients, and many of them have retail locations.

More info: Medical marijuana treatment centers


How much does it cost?

That depends on the patient, but marijuana growers and patients say the typical tab is $150 a month. Because cannabis isn’t covered by insurance, patients pay the entire amount out of pocket. And because marijuana remains federally illegal, you can’t pay with check or credit card. It’s mostly a cash business, although apps such as CanPay let consumers swipe debit cards rather than paying in cash.



In what form is marijuana sold? 

Florida patients can’t buy pot in the leafy green buds most commonly associated with the drug. Instead, cannabis is delivered through vaporizers, pills or other “edibles,” oral drops and nasal sprays. 



Is pot really medicine? 


That’s an open question. Many patients with serious illnesses say cannabis alleviates their symptoms. But because federal law all but prohibits rigorous clinical research, the evidence remains anecdotal but not scientific. Researchers are still figuring out the medical uses for THC, CBD and other compounds in cannabis. In one significant change, today’s pot isn’t only smoked — it can be vaped or taken orally in the form of a liquid, a pill or an “edible” such as a candy. 


More info: Hazy science: Is weed really a wonder drug? 

Florida doctors have mixed opinions about medical marijuana



Isn’t pot illegal at the federal level? 


Yes, and that makes the cannabis business a complicated one. The federal government hasn’t pursued criminal charges against anyone selling or using cannabis under programs allowed by state law. But the federal prohibition means banks aren’t keen to take deposits from marijuana companies. And employers are allowed to fire workers who test positive for pot, even if they consume cannabis under a state-sanctioned program.



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