In this past election, Florida voters approved to legalize medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment broadened access to medical cannabis beyond the limited therapeutic uses approved by the legislature two years ago.
Prior to the passing of Amendment 2, the law only allowed non-smoked, low-THC cannabis strains for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms.
The new amendment, passed in November 2016, formally legalizes medical marijuana with a broadened access for patients with diseases and symptoms other than just cancer, seizures, or spasms.
Specifically, the measure allows medical marijuana for patients with 10 illnesses: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, , amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis. It also allows doctors to prescribe cannabis for any other similar kind of ailment. In the future, the law may expand to cover other ailments cannabis is capable of treating.
The measure was written and promoted by United for Care, an Orlando-based, pro-medical marijuana group created by Kim Russel and chaired by the attorney John Morgan, of Morgan & Morgan.
With the passing of Amendment 2, Florida becomes the 28th state (29 if you want to include Washington DC) to legalize marijuana for medical uses.
The Florida Department of Health will be in charge of regulating how medical marijuana can be distributed, along with issuing ID cards to patients. All the rules that apply to the low-THC strain from the 2014 legislation, including how it's grown, transported, etc., will apply to the new law.
There are still many issues to work out, including how widespread its usage will be, who can grow and distribute it, how it will affect the community, and so on; but what is now clear is that Floridians wanted medical marijuana in their state. Now, they have it.
What are the facts about Marijuana?
The cannabis plant (also commonly known as weed, pot, and thousands of other pet names) consists of 3 species: sativa, indica, and ruderalis (and hybrids). Each strain (as the different species and sub-species are called) has a different effect on the body, allowing the plant to be tailored to the specific needs of a patient. There is a surprising amount of control over what and how much of a chemical the plant can produce.
Depending on the way it's grown, cannabis can be used for its seeds and their oils, hemp fiber, and for its potent flower, called the bud.
The main psychoactive component of cannabis is known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the active ingredient that causes a user to feel “high.” The other main component of cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD), which does not give a user the “high” feeling but does have medical benefits.
Marijuana is also extremely safe when compared to . In fact, there is no known record of any person ever dying from an overdose of marijuana. In data from 2014, we can see that total overdoses from other drugs amounted to 47,055. Deaths from pharmaceutical opioids totaled 18,893, and deaths from heroin overdoses reached 10,574.
What are the known medical benefits of marijuana?
- Increase appetite for those suffering from chronic illnesses, like cancer and AIDS.
- Limit nausea and vomiting caused by more intense treatments, like chemotherapy.
- Reduce pressure in the eyes caused by glaucoma.
- Decreased spasticity (tightening of muscles) caused by multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, paresthesia, tremors, lesions of the brain, and ataxia.
- Improved bladder control for ill patients.
- Proven analgesic properties of cannabis have been shown to alleviate neuropathic pain due to multiple sclerosis, damage to the brachial plexus, HIV infection, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer pain, , menstrual pain, chronic bowel inflammation, and neuralgias.
- Effective as an anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant to help control seizures and symptoms of seizures caused by different conditions.
- Slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
- Treats Hepatitis C and increases treatment effectiveness.
- Cannabis has been shown to offer which reduces the amount of .
Cannabis is also effective as an anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, in treating depression and other psychiatric illnesses, increasing appetite for anorexia, reducing withdrawal symptoms, anti-asthmatic, and treating or alleviating symptoms in many other conditions.
It's amazing that we have as much information as we do about the medical uses of marijuana, considering the restrictions on medical testing. On a federal level, marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, meaning it has “[no] accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This is among citizens and states. According to Business Insider, “only 6% of studies on marijuana analyze its medicinal properties.” Imagine what we would know if it were legal on a national level for any doctor, university, or team of scientists to research the drug.
Why is medical marijuana controversial?
There are obvious reasons that legalizing marijuana is so controversial. The most basic reason people are against they've been taught to be.
Old and young people alike grew up with everyone telling them it was bad. There were commercials, school programs, first ladies, and talking heads of all sorts preaching that marijuana was as bad as heroin and crack. We now know this to be untrue.
Marijuana has a long history in the US, being used to make products and medicines since European immigrants arrived here in the 1600s. Around the world, and in the US, it was known to be a beneficial plant that was easy to grow. In the early 1900s during the Mexican Revolution, an influx of Mexican immigrants (which white Americans did not like) caused Americans to demonize the “marihuana,” since it was widely associated with Mexican culture. Little did most Americans know, but they had the ‘dangerous substance' in their medicine cabinets. It was a popular, well-liked, and highly prescribed medication at the time. The outlawing of the plant made it easier to round up and deport these new arrivals. (A similar style of legislation would later be used to suppress African Americans. ).
Then in the 1930s, Reefer Madness came out, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, and 46 of the then 48 states banned the plant. In the 1950s, the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 started requiring minimum prison sentences for drug crimes, such as possessing marijuana. In the 1970s, President Nixon declared his . And we all know how well that has turned out.
The point is, the drug was once beloved and widely utilized. It was demonized as a way to oppress people from different cultures, not because it was really dangerous. And now, with a more progressive generation leading the charge, its medical benefits (and lack of social destruction) are again being realized.
It's a common belief that big pharmaceutical companies are the ones funding the anti-drug and anti-legalization campaigns. The legalization of an easily grown, super effective medication could mean consumers wouldn't need to rely on big companies to get their medical cures. Instead, they'd be able to grow their own, purchase it for a fair price, and/or find relief outside of other side-effect-ridden drugs.
Many states allow the drug to be used recreationally and much more allow it for medical purposes. Now, we can proudly say that Florida has joined the medical list. With time, research, and education, hopefully, we can stop young Americans in possession of cannabis, all together.
Hopefully, we continue to find new ways to help people with debilitating illnesses, so they can gain significant relief from their ailments, and hopefully, even be cured.
Can marijuana help me heal from an injury?
Medical-grade marijuana has been shown to decrease inflammation and control chronic pain while also helping to regulate the endocrine system (the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things). Marijuana helps to regulate this system by preventing it from becoming depleted through the day by pain or stress.
Specific strains of medical cannabis are being engineered to provide even greater relief from inflammation and pain caused by injuries, either from accidents or from long-term stresses, like sports.
In the past, most botanical engineering done to cannabis was in an attempt to increase the THC production to boost the “high” feeling. However, THC is also one of the leading medicinal compounds in cannabis, which, in conjunction with other chemicals, produces the healing and repairing effects.
How has weed changed in the medical industry?
Studies have demonstrated CBD's effectiveness in relieving pain, convulsions, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea; inhibiting cancer cell growth; and treating schizophrenia, among other things.
Because of the new interest in medical marijuana, botanists have been working hard to develop strains high in CBD, and low in THC, which could be ten to twenty times more medically effective because they contain such high levels of CBDs.
Medicines high in CBD (or with varying levels of CBD, THC, or other cannabinoids) are now being delivered in easy to ingest doses in the form of edibles. These aren't your typical pot brownies. They now come in many sizes, shapes, and flavors, and offer a safe, stigma-free alternative to smoking. They also yield a longer duration and a deeper effect on the body. Consuming cannabis allows the full uptake of the beneficial ingredients, whereas smoking lets some of the chemicals escape into the air.
What is some common scientific evident for marijuana as a pain reliever?
According to Mark Ware, MD, assistant professor of anesthesia and family medicine at McGill University in Montreal, "About 10% to 15% of patients attending a chronic pain clinic use cannabis as part of their pain [control] strategy."
Ware performed a clinical trial to compare a placebo with three different doses of cannabis. The three doses had three different potencies of THC: 9.4%, 6%, and 2.5%.
In the study, Ware evaluated 21 men and women who were, on average, 45 years old and who had chronic nerve pain. This, according to the researcher, would include people with severed nerves from surgeries or accidents.
''Each person was in the study for two months, and used all four strengths [including placebo]," said Ware, as reported by WebMD. Each patient's dose was changed in the rotation, and no patient knew what dose they were currently taking.
Each participant took a single puff three times a day for five days for each of the doses and the placebo. The size of the inhale was closely controlled.
After each trial, the patients rated their pain from 1 (very little pain) to 10 (extreme pain). Those who took the 9.4% concentration reduced their pain down to 5.4 while those on placebo were at 6.1.
Although that difference may seem small, ''any reduction in pain is important," Ware says.
What it means, more than just a small reduction in pain, is that cannabis is an analgesic. Now that it can be researched more, just imagine what we will learn and how it may completely change the world of injury recovery.
For now, many patients find cannabis, marijuana, weed, or pot to be extremely beneficial in relieving their pain and helping them to recover by providing an appetite, helping them sleep, and reducing the stress their injuries cause.
Since this is the case, we at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are glad the new law will help to provide relief to some of our clients. If it helps them recover, we are all for it.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is an experienced personal injury attorney in the Clearwater-Tampa area, serving all of Florida. We focus on helping victims of negligent injuries recover the damages they need to rebuild their lives. We do this through open communication with those who hire us, aggressive negotiating with insurance companies, and a reputation for defending our clients with a vast thoroughness.
If you have been injured, contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation. We look forward to protecting your rights.