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Jarod Peraza

How to Obtain a Medical Cannabis Card in Florida

I.
A. Early estimates from the Florida Department of Health place the number of
Florida residents who will initially qualify for obtaining a medical cannabis card
at around 440,552 and that figure is likely to grow once doctors begin prescribing
medical cannabis for those who have medical conditions other than the ten
highlighted in the ballot language - so even if you do not qualify yourself there is
a very high likelihood that you know a family member or a friend who does in
fact qualify.
B. I am here to inform you on how to obtain a medical cannabis card in the state
of Florida.
C. I will go over who is qualified to obtain a medical cannabis card, the
advantages and disadvantages of obtaining a medical cannabis card, as well as the
process for obtaining a medical cannabis card.
D. I have spent a lot of time researching this topic as I qualify for a medical
cannabis card myself since I am a type 1 Diabetic. I have scoured through various
government legislative documents and I have access to firsthand information
through my mother who is an attorney and attended a conference for attorneys in
Florida regarding medical cannabis.
E. Obtaining a medical cannabis card will allow hundreds of thousands, if not
millions of people access to a healthier and natural alternative to the various pills
and medications they take for their various ailments.

First, lets look at who is qualified to obtain a medical cannabis card.

II. As per the language of the constitutional amendment, there is a short list of
ailments that most definitely qualify a patient to obtain a medical cannabis card,
although the language of the ballot allows for physicians to determine at their
discretion other comparable ailments that may qualify a patient to obtain a
medical cannabis card.

A. Initially, there will be ten specific conditions as determined by the


language of the amendment that unanimously qualify a patient for
obtaining a medical cannabis card.

1. These conditions are Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, positive


status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
Crohns Disease, Parkinsons disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.

B. Additionally, physicians will be able to write recommendations for


patients who have other debilitating medical conditions of the same
kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a
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physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely


outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

1. Examples of other qualifying conditions includes but is not


limited to Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, Arthritis,
Anorexia, Sickle Cell Anemia, any terminal illness, and any
other condition a doctor deems as debilitating and could be
remedied with the assistance of medical cannabis.

What are the advantages of obtaining a medical cannabis card?

III. Believe it or not there are disadvantages to obtaining a medical cannabis card, but
I will begin with covering the benefits that make obtaining a medical cannabis
card worth it for those who need it.

A. Cannabis in its various forms has been proven to provide positive


benefits for patients when replacing the many toxic pills and
medications that are prescribed to treat various ailments. (provide
proof)

1. Per the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug


Policies (ENCOD), there are at least 700 ailments that
research has shown can be remedied with the use of
medical cannabis, which in return means that some
patients are even able to eliminate the toxic pills and
medications altogether from their daily regimen.

B. A second benefit of obtaining a medical cannabis card is the fact


that a patient will then be able to legally buy and possess medical
cannabis without the threat of arrest and/or prosecution since
cannabis remains illegal on a federal level. Lets face the facts.
Even though cannabis has been illegal, that did not stop those who
benefit from its effects from obtaining and using it under the threat
of arrest and/or prosecution. After obtaining a medical cannabis
card, patients will no longer have to purchase cannabis from the
black market and risk having a criminal record.

C. A third benefit of obtaining a medical cannabis card is the fact that


patients will have access to regulated high-quality cannabis rather
than having to buy it off the black market.

1. Many unregulated growers use pesticides and other


harmful chemicals when growing cannabis to
artificially produce better quality cannabis for higher
profits at the expense of the health of those consuming
it.
Jarod Peraza

2. In many circumstances of the unregulated growing of


cannabis, it is highly likely that the plants will become
diseased or infected by outside bodies such as spider
mites. It is highly dangerous and irresponsible to sell
this cannabis to people with serious health conditions
yet unregulated growers and sellers do it anyways
because they put their profits first. Obtaining a medical
cannabis card will alleviate the need for a patient to
obtain their cannabis from an unregulated source.
(insert article relating to tainted medical cannabis)

What are the disadvantages of obtaining a medical cannabis card?

IV. Health-wise, the advantages of obtaining a medical cannabis card far


outweigh the disadvantages, but when it comes to the legalities and
stipulations surrounding medical cannabis there are a few disadvantages
that cannot be ignored.

A. One disadvantage of obtaining a medical cannabis card is that


your health insurance provider may drop your coverage if they
find out you are partaking in the consumption of medical
cannabis since health insurance abides by federal law and
cannabis remains illegal on a federal level.

1. A possible workaround for obtaining a medical


cannabis card without alerting your health insurance
company could be that you make an appointment to be
seen by a new doctor that you have no history with so
that your health insurance does not have access to your
medical record for this visit and that you pay for the
visit out-of-pocket. The insurance company has no
obligation or privileges to view your medical records
for this doctors visit since it will not be paid for by the
insurance company and you are covered by HIPPA
laws.

B. Another disadvantage of obtaining a medical cannabis card is


that one may be fired from their job or even turned down
during the hiring process since many employers choose to
abide by federal law so as not to draw unwanted attention to
their business and as was previously stated, cannabis remains
illegal on a federal level.
Jarod Peraza

Example: After a quadriplegic man named Brandon Coats was


fired from DISH Network after testing positive for cannabis
after a drug test, he brought his case to the court system and
Colorados Supreme Court decided that employers can fire
workers who use marijuana for medical reasons, even though
it's legal in that state.
(http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/15/news/companies/dish-
employee-firing-marijuana-colorado-court/)

C. A third disadvantage of obtaining a medical cannabis card is


that one must pay for their cannabis completely out-of-pocket
since insurance companies follow federal laws and regulations
and will not cover prescriptions written for medical cannabis.
This results in the patient having to bear the burden of full
financial responsibility when it comes to obtaining medical
cannabis and it can become quite costly very quickly. A lot of
very sick patients who qualify for a medical cannabis card do
not have enough income to supplement their medical cannabis
needs since they are so ill they cannot work and medical
cannabis is not covered by any federal programs such as
Medicaid or Medicare.

What is the process for obtaining a medical cannabis card in Florida?

V. There are two main steps one must take when going through the
process of obtaining a medical cannabis card in Florida.

A. The first step is to establish care with physician from the


compassionate use registry.

1. There are two options when selecting a physician to


establish care with. The first option is to go through the
process privately on your own. One must access the
Compassionate Use Registry (link) for a full list of
qualified doctors in Florida who are legally able to
write recommendations for medical cannabis. This
option is not recommended as it can be more difficult to
obtain an appointment with a doctor with the long wait
times Florida is already known for as well as the fact
that it can be more expensive to go about it privately
rather than through a network of physicians, which I
will discuss further.

2. The second option which is the recommended option is


to contact a reputable network of licensed physicians
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such as DOC MJ. DOC MJ is a network of licensed


physicians who you can find within the Compassionate
Use Registry that have set up a network that makes the
process of obtaining a medical cannabis card easier and
cheaper than if you went about the process on your
own. A network such as DOC MJ (https://docmj.com/)
tends to be cheaper than going to a doctor privately
since the premise of the network is that they will be
able to help a wider volume of patients and get more
business since the process is more efficient due to being
set up in a way that expedites the process without
patients being left in the dark as to what they are
supposed to do next in the process of obtaining their
medical cannabis card whereas establishing a
relationship with a physician privately can have
enormous costs associated with it since it would be
viewed as a private doctors visit and as I have
previously stated you are going to want to pay for this
out-of-pocket as to not alert your health insurance
company.

3. One must be vigilant when searching for a network to


use for this process since there are so many fake/scam
networks set up to prey on potential patients which is
why I am using the example of DOC MJ since you can
find their provided list of physicians within the
Compassionate Use Registry.
(http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-
services/office-of-compassionate-
use/_documents/completed-cme.pdf)

4. One must begin establishing a 90-day relationship with


a qualified physician before moving on to the second
step in the process.

B. The second step is to have a face-to-face exam with the


physician you have begun establishing a 90-day relationship
with.

1. At some point within the 90-day window the physician


will schedule an appointment to see you in person.

2. When attending the appointment, you will need to


present the physician with your medical records and
then the physician will be able to begin discussing your
recommendation options.
Jarod Peraza

C. One may currently begin this process at any time, however,


detailed legislation is being drafted regarding how the actual
medical cannabis cards will be implemented and distributed to
patients. This legislation must be passed by June, 3rd 2017 so
that patients may begin receiving their medicine. In the
meantime, Florida Senator Jeff Brands has filed a preliminary
bill regarding the legislation of the medical cannabis laws and
regulations in the state of Florida which can be viewed here:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/0614/BillText/File
d/PDF

D. To stay up to date with the most current information regarding


medical cannabis in the state of Florida you can visit the
website for the Office of Compassionate Use here:
http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-
compassionate-use/

So, what have we learned today?

VI. At the time that medical cannabis cards will be issued in Florida, there
will already be nearly half a million people who qualify to obtain one
with even more qualifying as time goes on. Even though you may not
qualify to obtain a card yourself, it is highly likely that you do know
somebody who does qualify that this information could be beneficial
to. I have informed you about what conditions qualify for medical
cannabis and the advantages and disadvantageous of obtaining a
medical cannabis card, as well as the actual process for going about
obtaining a medical cannabis card in Florida.
Jarod Peraza

Works Cited

Florida Department of Health Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions


Constitutional Amendment Analysis . Publication. N.p.: n.p., 2015. Office of Economic &
Demographic Research. Web. 2 Feb. 2017. <http://edr.state.fl.us/Content/constitutional-
amendments/2016Ballot/MedMTab6_update_10-19-15.pdf>.

Beran, Jackie, Ryan Byrne, Jessica Dravecky, Cindy Kehler, Tyler King, Wes Taliani, Josh
Altic, Charles Aull, and Joel Williams. "Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization,
Amendment 2 (2016)." Ballotpedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.
<https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016)
>.

"700 MEDICINAL USES OF CANNABIS SORTED BY DISEASE." 700 MEDICINAL


USES OF CANNABIS SORTED BY DISEASE - Encod.org. N.p., 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 02
Feb. 2017. <http://www.encod.org/info/700-MEDICINAL-USES-OF-CANNABIS.html>.

Isidore, Chris. "Colorado top court says Dish worker can be fired for medical
marijuana." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 15 June 2015. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
<http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/15/news/companies/dish-employee-firing-marijuana-
colorado-court/>.