Before You Can Obtain A Medical Marijuana Card, You Must Meet A MMJ Physician

It First Starts with You

“Everything starts with the patient,” said Dr. Mark C. Moore, primary physician at Tallahassee-based MEDCAN, a medical-cannabis office.

“Someone may have a medical problem and they usually hear from a friend or media or from their reading that there is some help they can get help from medical cannabis,” continued Dr. Moore.

First things first. A call to the clinic will hook you up with the right person within a day or two. One of the first things MEDCAN does is to prescreen you for medical marijuana (MMJ) protocol, on the phone, without a charge. This way, says Moore, a patient will have a good idea if their condition falls within the legal definition for MMJ recommendations. The word “recommendation” is used because cannabis is still a federal Schedule 1 drug so “prescriptions” cannot be written. Silly but still, it is the law.

Once prequalified, the patient is given an appointment with a wait of about two weeks. Patients are seen by appointment only at MEDCAN.

The Initial Appointment

At this appointment, bring not only yourself but any and all supporting medical records as pertaining to your illness. For instance, “A person with a history of seizures will need their neurological records and an EEG interpretation,” explained Moore.

Payment at this time is by cash, money order, check or credit card. No insurance is accepted as there is not one insurance company willing to enter the arena of MMJ.

Other paperwork is then completed -- medical conditions and assessments, medical record privacy forms – which is then followed by a mini-physical. Time to roll up your sleeves peeps.

Open Your Mouth, Stick Out Your Arm, Let Me Hold Your Wrist…

Weight, blood pressure, respiration, pulse and other vital signs are recorded in the patient’s record for a baseline of the person’s condition. The patient is then seen by the physician and examined with a special emphasis of the person’s qualifying condition.

Next, a discussion of Florida law and the use of medical marijuana. The approved current conditions in Florida are cancer, seizures and disabling muscle spasms.

“After the November 2016 ballot [initiative] is approved, these indications will expand to other medical problems such as Parkinson’s, multiple scoliosis and other neurologic diseases,” Moore predicts.

After the physical exam confirms the qualifying condition, the patient is then scheduled for a follow-up appointment in six weeks. At that time, another physical examination is given with an emphasis on the affliction, more discussion of Florida law as it pertains to the person’s specific situation. There is a chart review and after all factors are considered, a MMJ recommendation is then given.

You Are Now Eligible to Purchase MMJ

At 90 days, the patient is eligible for medical cannabis under state law. Her name is then entered into the state database of approved medical cannabis users at the Office of Compassionate Use. The patient then goes to an approved dispensary where the staff accesses the website and gets the patient’s recommendation so they can receive their medication. A maximum 45-day supply can be given. The patient returns to the clinic for additional recommendations.

Research

Under the Compassionate Use Law, physicians are required to update a patient’s record every three months. This data goes to the University of Florida for collection. The only thing is that this is seen as a burden on doctors because of the amount of paperwork per patient involved. To enroll a patient in this study, a physician has a to fill out SEVEN pages of information.

The three-month updates are only three pages long but if a doctor has many patients, this is a great amount of paperwork to accomplish and then maintain. But most who are involved in this new endeavor say the process and end result is rewarding.

“The law is new and the medication, while still considered to be illegal at the federal level but is authorized by the state, in the hopes that patients will be able to access these medicines that can help them,” said Moore.