Find Florida doctors approved to order medicinal marijuana, know the rules

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(WFLA) — Under Florida law, patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy or chronic seizures or muscle spasms can get low-THC cannabis oil and derivative products by obtaining an order from a physician and then filling the order with one of the state’s five approved dispensing organizations.

There are additional patient requirements

  • The patient must be a permanent Florida resident.
  • If the patient is under the age of 18, a second physician must agree with the determination of need for the patient.
  • The patient must suffer from cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms; or symptoms of the same.
  • Other treatments must have been tried without success.
  • The ordering physician must determine the risks of using low-THC cannabis are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient.
  • The ordering physician must register the patient in the Compassionate Use Registry.
  • The ordering physician must maintain a patient treatment plan which outlines the dose, route of administration, planned duration, monitoring of the patient’s illness, and tolerance of the low-THC cannabis, and submit the plan to the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy on a quarterly basis for research purposes.

Can any doctor order low-THC cannabis for a patient?

Doctors must complete a special 8-hour course and pass a test before they are allowed to order low-THC cannabis for a patient.

How can I find an approved doctor?

The Florida Department of Health Office of Compassionate Use maintains a list of doctors who have been approved to order low-THC cannabis. You can find a doctor by clicking on the accompanying map. The names of Doctors included in the map are current as of the date of this story’s publication. The Florida Department of Health updates the list of doctors.

How do I get low-THC cannabis?

Once a qualified physician enters a patient’s order into the statewide low-THC registry, the patient goes to a dispensary operated by one of the state’s five Dispensing Organizations.

Dispensary staff will verify the patient’s identity and then fill the corresponding order in the registry. Once it has been filled, the order is cleared by the registry and the patient will need to receive another physician order to receive additional low-THC cannabis derivative products.

Who dispenses low-THC cannabis in my area?

The five approved dispensing organizations serve different regions in Florida-

  • Southwest Region: Alpha Surterra in Hillsborough County
  • Central Region: Knox Nursery in Orange County
  • Northwest Region: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County
  • Southeast Region: Costa Nursery in Miami Dade County
  • Northwest Region: Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County

The dispensing organization in the Tampa Bay area, Alpha Surterra, is expected to begin dispensing low-THC cannabis products sometime in June of 2016.

What is a low-THC cannabis derivative product?

Cannabis sold in Florida must contain a very low amount (0.8 percent) of THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient most commonly associated with the high of cannabis. It is not legal to smoke low-THC cannabis and patients will not be able to purchase cannabis in its flower form. As a result, dispensing organizations will produce alternative routes of administration from low-THC oil such as tinctures or topical applications.

Information in this report was obtained from the Florida Department of Health Office of Compassionate Use.

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