Florida Ballot Includes Legalization of Medical Marijuana

As part of the election on November 8, 2016, residents in Florida were asked to vote in opposition or in favor of legalizing the prescribing of marijuana for medical purposes in the state. With 71.3% of Floridians voting in its favor, medical marijuana will now be available to patients through prescriptions given by qualified treatment providers.

Two years ago, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes was proposed as an initiative on Florida’s ballot. However, at that time, only 57% of voters were in favor of the decision and, in the state, a minimum of 60% must approve of it in order for a law to pass.

With the results of the November 8 election reversing that decision, physicians throughout Florida will have the ability to prescribe medicinal marijuana for patients who are suffering from certain conditions. Matt Ferner, National Reporter for The Huntington Post, explained that these conditions can include multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, HIV, and AIDS, among others.

With the passing of this law, doctors will be able to use their discretion in determining who could potentially benefit from the use of this substance. After the results of the vote were revealed, Christopher Ingraham from The Washington Post reported that Florida is the first Southern state to “enact a robust medical marijuana regime” and that it “has the potential to be one of the more permissive medical marijuana regimes in the nation.”

Use of Medical Marijuana for Psychological Disorders

Although the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is becoming more prevalently accepted in terms of the law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve the use of cannabis for treating medical conditions. Amy E. Thompson, MD, noted that there currently remains a lack of comprehensive studies that prove that marijuana is safe and effective in treating various medical conditions, and until that evidence has been provided, the FDA will not approve it. This fact, however, does not mean that physicians are incapable of prescribing it to their patients.

In the past, medical marijuana has most commonly been referred to in terms of treating physical conditions. However, research is emerging that is hoping to show the potential that cannabis has for treating mental health concerns and psychiatric disorders. There are many individuals who report that consuming marijuana alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yet, other individuals have experienced the onset of symptoms of both disorders after consuming the substance. Additionally, marijuana use has also been known to cause psychosis in some individuals.

Consuming any type of substance will ultimately affect each person differently. So while some people may suffer from the onset of depressive symptoms only after consuming marijuana, it is just as likely that another person may experience an alleviation of debilitating symptoms of depression after using the drug. It is for this reason that those who receive a prescription for medicinal marijuana must remain consistently monitored in order to ensure their safety and wellbeing, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of the marijuana, or lack thereof.

Moving Forward

In the weeks leading up to the November 8 election, The New York Times published an article reporting that the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida could potentially lead other southern states to reconsider their negative standpoint on the use of the substance, ultimately paving the way for more widespread use of medicinal cannabis.

Whether or not more states follow the lead of those who have legalized medical marijuana, it is important for treatment centers in Fort Myers, Naples, and throughout the rest of the state of Florida to make a conscious effort to raise awareness of the possible detriments that could ensue when the use of marijuana becomes prevalent. While there is no disputing the potential benefits that the substance could have for certain individuals who are suffering from certain conditions, there is always the unfortunate likelihood that the use of the substance could pose a threat. In addition to being at risk for experiencing adverse side effects after consuming marijuana, there is also the probability that an individual may become addicted to the substance. Another concern lies in the fact that there may be some individuals who receive a legitimate prescription for medicinal marijuana but who then choose to sell it in order to make money. If treatment centers work to remain one step ahead of the community, they will be prepared to offer assistance and provide care should it become necessary.