Florida is struggling to keep up with the cannabis boom, as thousands of new patients seek access to medical marijuana.
A new law which expands the list of maladies that qualify for treatment has similarly expanded the number of patients who qualify. Florida’s new cannabis program has doubled to more than 31,000.
However, qualified patients are discovering obstacles in order to receive the state-issued card they need in order to legally obtain cannabis products. Doctors, too, are finding it difficult to obtain the state-required training. The consensus is that the Florida Office of Compassionate Use is simply overwhelmed.
At present, an average patient waits as long as two months after applying to receive a medical marijuana card.
The complaints keep coming in about unreasonable delays, applications rejected on technicalities and of paperwork misplaced. And if you decide to call the OCU, be prepared to be on hold for hours.
According to a spokesperson, as of Aug. 6, the state has awarded 12,226 cards. But both physicians and patients say the wait unnecessary.
The OCU handles between 1,000 and 1,300 phone calls every day, with 3,000 ID card applications pending at any one time. Additionally, the office is also responsible for keeping track of the state’s 12 licensed growers as well as monitoring all the information that doctors submit about their patients.
Florida has approximately 1,005 doctors trained to issue marijuana certifications. That’s significantly more than at the start of the year. And there is concern about what will happen if the growth of the patient list continues to outpace the number of new doctors.
However, this month, Florida issued five new licenses for medical marijuana treatment centers, bringing the number to 12. As the rules become more established, new clinics are opening up that cater specifically to medical marijuana patients.
How does this help the hundreds of patients who have to wait helplessly for their card and their medication? It doesn’t.
Florida had plenty of time to prepare for this. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t.