Last year, Florida voters decided to expand the state’s highly restrictive medical marijuana program, but lawmakers have struggled to adhere to the wishes of their frustrated constituents. Governor Rick Scott and Republican policymakers have tried to maintain the severely limited nature of the previous system, even placing a ban on smoking legally acquired green.
Despite these various bureaucratic quandaries, Florida’s medical cannabis system has seen a vast increase in doctors registered to recommend pot to patients. Currently, there are more than 1,220 physicians signed up to partake in the program, a massive increase from the 290 doctors that were authorized prior to the voter-approved expansion.
A large number of the doctors who are currently allowed to suggest medical marijuana use are located in the South Florida, including 208 in Miami-Dade County, 118 in Broward County, and 116 in Palm Beach County. However, most individuals throughout the peninsula state now have access to at least one medical professional that can sign off on legal cannabis treatment. According to data collected by the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, 47 out of the state’s 67 counties now have local practitioners that are permitted to recommend pot to patients. More than 400 of these physicians specialize in internal medicine, followed by 243 in family medicine and 134 in anesthesiology.
Alongside this uptick in certified physicians, the number of patients in the program has also skyrocketed since the recent expansion. Since the list of qualifying ailments was extended, the amount of Floridans who have registered for medical marijuana has doubled from 16,760 to 31,051, leaving the state’s cannabis department unable to process and supply patient identification cards in a timely manner.
While state policymakers continue to pose a challenge to the voter-approved expansion, the booming number of registered doctors and patients proves that inhabitants of The Sunshine State are eager to take part in a broader and more accessible medical marijuana system.