The Real Facts about Medical Cannabis
Nov 01, 2016 11:22AM
● By Linda Sechrist
To find out how accurate or misleading the local political campaign attempting to negatively influence Florida voters regarding Amendment 2, the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative is, Natural Awakenings gave Dr. Michael Uphues, a board certified family physician and medical cannabis expert who practices at Well Bridges, in Bonita Springs, Florida an opportunity to clarify important facts about cannabis.
Amendment 2 has nothing to do with the legalization of pot, an emotionally charged term meant to sway public opinion, much like the myth of the 1936 film, Reefer Madness. It is a medical initiative that has nothing in common with the recreational use of marijuana, a botanical in the genus Cannabis.
More than 20,000 clinical studies have been conducted worldwide, most in the last 10 years, on the medical properties of two particular cannabinoids—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Many studies are cited in PubMed and can be found at ncbi.nim.nih.gov.
It is up to local ordinances to determine the type of preparations offered, therefore, there may or not be edible preparations such as baked goods. Doctors do not recommend smoking medical cannabis, which can be vaporized and inhaled, taken in a tincture, applied in a salve, oil, lotion or body butter, as well as administered via suppository. In whatever form, the dosage, as determined by a responsible physician, will not necessarily have a psychogenic effect.
Medical cannabis dosage standards are strict for a licensed physician that wants to get certified as a cannabinoid medicine specialist. They must first take a course offered by the Florida Board of Medicine at a cost of $1,000. A patient’s prescription for medical cannabis must be filled at a licensed and state regulated dispensary, which is much like a compounding pharmacy. The patient recommendation, which is limited to a 45-day supply, can only be written by a licensed/certified physician. Physicians and dispensaries work together just as physicians and pharmacies collaborate.
Florida laws stipulate that dispensaries be set up in locations determined by local governments; for instance, not within 1,000 feet of schools, churches or childcare facilities.
Regarding negative campaigns, follow the money. Entities such as pharmaceutical companies, the alcohol industry and private prisons stand to lose money with the legalization of medical cannabis. Individuals that medicate their pain with cannabis don’t need alcohol and opioids, and prison systems will have smaller populations. Opioid use drops 25 to 33 percent in states with a medical cannabis program in which chronic pain is included as one of the qualifying conditions.