There was a nearly packed house at the Gulfport Senior Center Monday, February 12, when people came out for Alex Adams of Compassionate Care Clinics of Pinellas educational seminar on the use of medicinal marijuana as a substitute or supplement to traditional pharmaceuticals.
“I have seen people’s need for opiates decrease by 30 percent just 90 days into using medicinal cannabis,” said Adams.
Adams discussed the potential uses for medicinal marijuana – such as treatment for symptoms related to cancer, epilepsy, anxiety, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, migraines, seizures, nerve pain, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease – and the steps it takes to be prescribed marijuana.
“First you need to visit a doctor that is certified to recommend cannabis in Florida,” Adams said. He said that about 1,000 of around 55,000 Florida doctors are able to prescribe medicinal marijuana.
“After a doctor assesses your medical conditions and reviews your records and says you have a condition that qualifies and you get your recommendation, you will go into the medicinal marijuana use registry. Then you can apply for a medicinal marijuana registry ID card from the department of health. After that, you can visit a dispensary or have it delivered,” Adams said.
Adams explained that it is the patient’s responsibility to keep their registration up to date. “The law requires we see you every 210 days, or seven months, and it is $15 to renew your card at that time,” said Adams. “If you don’t then the process starts over.”
Adams spoke about the various types of medical marijuana and how each might help relieve pain and symptoms of chronic conditions. He explained that marijuana contains cannabinoids, diverse chemical compounds that act on receptors in cells of the human body that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. Additionally, Adams briefed attendees on ways of administering medicinal marijuana, including vaporizers, edibles and capsules, as well as sublingual tinctures.
Adams closed with a discussion of the cost of medicinal marijuana.
“It can run [a person] $100 to $400 a month depending on tolerance from past use,” he said. There is also a $75 fee for a Florida marijuana use ID card.
In November 2016, 71 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 to the state constitution allowing the use of low THC marijuana for qualified patients. Gulfport does not currently have a medical marijuana dispensary, however city council voted to allow them in the city’s commercial districts on Tuesday, January 16. A Google search shows several dispensaries in Pinellas County, including Compassionate Care Clinics of Pinellas, which opened last September.
Adams urged attendees to use caution and do their research when choosing a dispensary.
“Some dispensaries want to sell you something no matter what,” said Adams. “We are here to improve quality of life, not to get you stoned.”