Where do medical marijuana card holders buy their marijuana? In states where medical marijuana is legal, they purchase it from a cannabis (Cannabis sativa is the biological name for the marijuana plant) dispensary. Medical cannabis can be used to treat a wide variety of disease symptoms, as well as chronic pain, medical conditions and side effects from treatments.
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. An additional 15 states, including Florida, have legislation or ballot measures pending to legalize medical cannabis. Colorado and Washington State have legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana, and Alaska voters will decide this August whether to follow suit. Oregon and California may also see recreational pot legalization ballot measures in the near future.
Medical Marijuana Law in Florida
Florida voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical cannabis this November. If the ballot measure passes with at least 60% of the vote, the state constitution will be amended to permit the cultivation, purchase, possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes, when recommended by a state-licensed physician.
The new Florida medical marijuana law would designate specific diseases and conditions that are approved to be treated with medical marijuana, but allows physicians to recommend its use for “other conditions,” as long as the physician believes marijuana use would outweigh any potential health risks for the patient.
What to Expect if Marijuana Becomes Legal
If voters pass the ballot measure, the amendment becomes effective January 6, 2015. Florida’s Department of Health would be required to implement its rules and regulations regarding cultivation and sale within six months, and begin issuing medical marijuana cards within nine months.
Interested patients would need to apply for a medical marijuana card, after securing a recommendation from a state-licensed physician who has completed a physical examination. There will likely be an application fee and annual renewal fees for card holders. The Department of Health will be required to keep all medical marijuana card records confidential.
Once a patient has received a medical marijuana card, the next step is to find a cannabis dispensary that fits his or her needs. In Florida, the state will license both growers and cannabis dispensaries as “Medical Treatment Centers.” At this point, patients will not be allowed to grow their own medical marijuana.
What to Expect at a Cannabis Dispensary
Some medical marijuana dispensaries require memberships; others do not. Member collectives often allow customers to pay a membership fee when they make their first purchase. Many are open to all, but offer additional discounts to members.
Here are some rules you may encounter at a cannabis dispensary:
- Check in with security personnel or go through a metal detector.
- Show a medical marijuana card.
- Complete paperwork.
- Leave your cellphone at the security desk or in your pocket.
Medical marijuana is sold in a variety of forms, including capsules, in food (known as edibles) or as marijuana that can be smoked or vaporized. Marijuana is often organized by strain, or variety, and sold by the gram, eighth-ounce, quarter-ounce, half-ounce or ounce.
Edibles might include baked goods, candy, lozenges, infused oils and honey, or beverages, such as elixirs and teas. Marijuana capsules, tinctures and topical applications (lotions, bath salts) are often available.
The medical marijuana dispensary staff should be ready and willing to help you choose the right product for your condition, whether you’re seeking relief from nausea, pain, anxiety, insomnia, migraines or any of the other health issues for which marijuana has been shown to be effective.
You might be asked if you prefer satvia strain or indica strain of cannabis. Marijuana dispensaries may have both, as well as hybrid strains, available. They each tend to have different properties, so if you’re not sure which you prefer, ask for help.
How to Find a Good Cannabis Dispensary
Finding a good cannabis dispensary might require some research, or could be as simple as asking a friend or family member for a referral. It’s a good idea to check local laws, as well. Fort Lauderdale, for example, could have completely different regulations than Ocala or Pensacola.
You might consider some of all of these factors when making your dispensary decision:
- Professional staff with good product knowledge
- Prices, which should be clearly marked
- Good product selection
- Tested products
- A variety of accessories
- Friendly, helpful service
- Clean, safe environment
- Product quality
- Organically grown products
If Florida legalizes medical marijuana, Medical Treatment Centers will probably be easy to research online. Gather information to narrow down your choices. If you visit a dispensary and don’t feel comfortable, feel free to leave and shop around for one that fits your needs.
Cannabis Dispensaries Statistics
- Medical marijuana dispensaries in California: estimated between 500 and 1,000
- Medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado: 500+
- Retail marijuana stores allowed in Washington State: 334
- Licensed retail marijuana stores in Colorado: 136
- Marijuana dispensaries allowed in Arizona: 124
- Retail marijuana stores allowed in Seattle: 21
- Marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island: 2
Finding the Right Cannabis Dispensary in Florida
If Florida voters approve the ballot measure in November, the state will legalize marijuana for medical use, and put into motion a chain of events resulting in licensed Medical Treatment Centers. Finding the right cannabis dispensary can be a process, but it helps to know what to expect. Take your time and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
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