MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Since this time last year, the number of medical marijuana patients in Florida has more than doubled.
In fact, the state of Florida is the second-fastest-growing medical marijuana market in the country, according to a recent study done by Marijuana Business Daily.
In November 2016, medical marijuana became legal for Florida residents, but, despite the obvious upward trend, many in the industry say there is still a lot of misinformation about it.
CBS4’s Karli Barnett breaks down the facts and learned the process of accessing medical marijuana.
“There’s a lot more resources out there. From where we started in 2016 to now, is completely different with the medical marijuana program here in Florida,” says Kristin Petrik. We sat down with her at work to learn about her experience.
Petrik is one of about 400,000 Florida patients who traded in prescription medication for something more natural.
“I suffer from a history of PTSD and anxiety,” she explains. “Using a lot of pharmaceuticals, you have really bad side effects. For me, trying medical marijuana was a great homeopathic alternative.”
She is not currently using it because she’s pregnant, but says the switch made a big difference in her quality of life. Petrik is not alone. Since this past March, there has been about a 50 percent increase in Florida patients who use medical marijuana. That’s according to the latest numbers from the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Getting a medical marijuana card starts with seeing a qualified physician. Between Broward and Miami-Dade counties, there are now about 760 physicians certified to recommend medical marijuana. To be qualified, they have to take a two-hour online course from the Florida Department of Health.
“I guess when you initially think of medical marijuana, you think of kids with fake issues, or no issues, just wanting to get high. But that’s not it,” says Dr. Anthony Andreoni with Cannabis Doctors of Florida. As a former surgeon, he admits he was skeptical when the law first came out. However, he ultimately changed his mind after seeing, what he says, were the positive effects in patients.
In speaking about his own clients, he says their use of medical marijuana has resulted in a dramatic decrease in their use of potentially addictive pills.
“Patients off of opioids, or at least reduced significantly, would be about 75 percent of the patients I have seen,” he says.