Ever since the state legalized medical marijuana in 2017, over 300,000 Florida residents have qualified for its use by visiting Florida medical marijuana doctors.
Only patients with a “cannabis card” can legally purchase from one of the state’s licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTC).
Visiting a Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor – Do You Qualify?
According to the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, patients who have been diagnosed with Cancer, Epilepsy, HIV, Seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, or any ailment/condition “of the same severity/symptoms” are eligible to receive the card.
Conditions that are not yet understood by the medical community may also qualify. This includes people who suffer from insomnia or chronic pain, which can sometimes be difficult to prove. However, if you’re transparent with your doctor about your symptoms, that’s a big help.
If you’re wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida, we have 7 tips to make the process as seamless and stress-free as possible:
- Be a Florida resident. Just because Florida has legalized medical marijuana, it doesn’t mean that residents of other states can travel here to bring cannabis back home. As of 2020, no medical tourism in Florida is allowed. To get the card, you must be able to prove that you are a resident of Florida. The state will accept identification such as a driver’s license, mortgage, or less with your name on it. Any of these documents must have a Florida address on them to prove that you live in the state.
- Schedule an appointment with a Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor. Not every board certified physician in Florida can issue medical cannabis. For example, if you have a long-standing relationship with your primary care physician but they are not a licensed medical marijuana physician, then you will need to find another doctor for this particular recommendation. There are over 2,300 qualified providers who have a Florida medical marijuana license.
If you have to visit another doctor, then remember to bring your medical records with you. You can also ask your current physician’s office to share your records if possible. Fortunately, the state of Florida created a Medical Marijuana Use Registry. You can check to see whether your primary care physician or the doctor you’re looking to schedule an appointment with is registered and eligible to make the cannabis recommendation.
- Be prepared to sign a consent form. Don’t be worried or surprised if you have to sign a detailed consent form. Sometimes contracts and waivers can appear overwhelming. However, this consent form is simply to acknowledge that you are aware that medical marijuana is still a controlled substance. The consent form also ensures patients are aware that cannabis can impact coordination and motor skills. It has been reported that some patients change their mind after reading the consent form.
- Talk transparently with your doctor. Even though medical marijuana is legalized in Florida, it can sometimes feel like there’s still a stigma around it. It’s important to remember that your physician has your best interest and well-being in mind. Don’t be afraid to talk transparently about your conditions and the symptoms that you experience. By talking openly with your doctor, you can have a healthy conversation about whether medical cannabis is a good option for your situation. If you have a qualifying condition, then it’s time to apply for a cannabis card.
- Have a passport style photo ready. Your card will have your picture on it. This is to ensure that only you can use the card to purchase and pick up your medical cannabis. Florida does not allow cards to be shared. However, the Department of Health itself does not take these photos. You must provide your own passport style photo to be used on the ID. You can easily have one taken at the post office, drug store, or office supply store. Selfies and other self-taken photos do not qualify. Depending on where you go, the cost for a passport style photo ranges anywhere from $10 to $25.
- Be ready to wait up to 45 days. Once you’re officially eligible, you can submit your application for the card to the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. This is an easy process that you can complete online. It can take up to 45 days from the moment you submit the form for your application to be reviewed and approved. This is why we recommend that patients who believe they have a qualifying condition see a doctor as quickly as possible. Because the application process can take so long, there’s no reason to wait any longer. Start the process as early as possible!
- Put the renewal date on your calendar. Like any other state issued ID, your cannabis card will expire. The card is only good for 1 year, so be sure to be proactive about your renewals. We recommend that patients begin the renewal process up to 45 days ahead of the expiration date. Why? Because the approval and renewal process can take so long, starting early ensures that there won’t be a gap in coverage.
If you still have questions on how to get a medical marijuana card in Florida, we recommend that you talk candidly with your physician. If medical cannabis has the potential to improve your quality of life and alleviate your symptoms, then it’s definitely an option to consider. Be proactive and let your doctor know about any conditions that are bothering you.
Tips for Starting Cannabis Treatment
Once everything is approved and you have your medical cannabis in hand, the general advice is to “start low and go slow.” If you haven’t tried medical marijuana before, then you might not know your tolerance to the treatment. Some general tips commonly given by physicians and dispensaries:
- Start any new medication when you don’t have responsibilities the next day. For example, the weekend or evening are good times to try new cannabis medication. This means that you can avoid any work hours.
- Avoid using medical marijuana when you need to focus for work or know that you’ll need to operate a vehicle.
- Adhere top your physician’s recommendations. Just like any other medication, it can take a few weeks or months for medical marijuana treatments to take their full effect.
By following these tips, you’ll be closer to getting the treatment that you need!
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