What is the difference between low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis?

Low-THC cannabis means a plant of the genus Cannabis, the dried flowers of which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol weight for weight; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization. Low-THC cannabis contains very low amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, and typically does not result in the “high” often associated with medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, sale, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization for medical use by an eligible patient as defined in s. 499.0295. Medical cannabis contains significant levels of the cannabinoid THC, and can result in the euphoric “high” sensation.

How can medical cannabis help me?

Medical cannabis has numerous applications for neurological, muscular and chronic debilitating conditions as well as cancer. The plant produces several substances that are present in the products consumed for medical conditions. THC is what causes the “high” and binds to receptors in certain areas of the brain. We recommend products that may or may not cause this “high” based upon the issue we are treating. Terpenes are also present and we are unsure of their medical benefit, but we know they need to be available in order to achieve the best results. The medical “magic” comes from the cannabinoids the plant produces.

Who is eligible to receive an order for medical cannabis products in Florida?

Patients suffering from any of the qualifying conditions below are considered to be eligible to received medical cannabis in Florida, as of July 3, 2017:

  • AIDs
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Chronic nonmalignant pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV Positive Status
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • PTSD
  • Any condition that is a similar type or class of the 11-conditions listed above (for example, “debilitating anxiety and PTSD” would be similar conditions)
  • Any terminal condition* diagnosed by a secondary physician diagnosis (i.e. a physician who is not the same physician issuing the medical cannabis recommendation)

*A terminal condition is a progressive disease or medical or surgical condition that causes significant functional impairment, is not considered by a treating physician to be reversible without the administration of life-sustaining procedures, and will result in death within 1 year after diagnosis if the condition runs its normal course.

What are the requirements to become a qualifying patient?

Florida state law has several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis.

  • A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
  • A patient must be a Florida resident or seasonal resident.
  • If under the age of 18, a patient’s guardian or legal caregiver
  • A patient must be registered with the Medical Marijuana Use Registry by their ordering physician.

How does medical cannabis work?

Before discussing how cannabinoids work, first we must understand the endocannabinoid system. Each person produces their own cannabinoids, we know of 2 and suspect there are 4. The cannabinoid anandimide is widely present in the central nervous system and the other cannabinoid 2AG is in the body. There is belief that the depletion of these cannabinoids is associated with some disease process. When consuming the plant’s cannabinoids, it prevents the enzyme FAAH from breaking down the cannabinoids produced in your body, effectively elevating the anandimide and 2AG levels. In the endocannabinoid system humans have more receptors for cannabinoids in the brain than any other neurotransmitter, more than dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc. When cannabinoids bind to the receptors, it has a very unique reaction. If it needs to excite it does and if it needs to relax it does, no other neurotransmitter can make this claim. This is how it works on neurologic and muscular conditions. It also has receptors on pain pathways and this is why it is effective with chronic pain. There are no receptors for cannabinoids in the breathing center of the brain and this is why it’s impossible to overdose on cannabis (unlike opioids which kill 49 people in the US every day).

How can a patient purchase low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?

A qualified patient must first seek treatment from a qualified physician immediately preceding their order for low-THC or medical cannabis. Once the ordering physician inputs the patient’s information and the order information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, the patient or the patient’s legal representative will then be able to contact one of the seven licensed dispensing organizations and fill the order.

Who can be a qualified patient’s legal representative?

A legal representative is a qualified patient’s parent, legal guardian acting pursuant to a court’s authorization as required under section 744.3215(4), Florida Statutes health care surrogate acting pursuant to the qualified patient’s written consent or a court’s authorization as required under section 765.113, Florida Statutes or an individual who is authorized under a power of attorney to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the qualified patient.

Can patients obtain low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis if they do not have one of the qualifying conditions?

No. Physicians may only order low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions listed above.

How much low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis can a qualifying physician order for a patient?

Qualifying physicians can order no more than three 70-day supply and a cannabis delivery device needed by the patient for the medical use of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis.

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