Florida paved the way for Davis to be able to do so through its Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which gave doctors some authority in marijuana treatments for certain patients but only with non-euphoric forms of the plant.
Davis, of Florida Marijuana Doctors, said he has been licensed to recommend medical marijuana in Florida for almost a year but started actually doing so in August. He doesn’t have a physical office of his own yet.
“I believe that [marijuana] works effectively as a medicine, and there’s a lot of people that can really benefit by it,” the 42-year-old said. “I believe that there’s a huge gap in the law that allows patients to receive it and the ability to obtain it and use it as a medicine.”
“To obtain medical marijuana legally, it must come from one of the six Florida dispensaries,” Davis wrote in a message. According to Davis, two of them are in Alachua county. “Although those two are not yet dispensing,” he added.
Deputy Press Secretary of the Florida Department of Health Brad Dalton approved that in the future both organizations in Alachua will be dispensing.
“The two companies in Alachua do not have dispensaries open at this time, but they are dispensing organizations. The department approved six dispensing organizations to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis. So yes, there will be a time when both organizations in Alachua are dispensing,” he wrote in an email.
The county is expected to get a third, Knox Medical, sometime in the next few months, said Bruce Knox, a co-founder and COO. Renovations haven’t started yet, though, for the existing building in the 3000 block of Southwest 34th Street.
“Long before Amendment 2 was on the ballot, Knox Medical heard from families in need demanding the relief medical cannabis provides to patients suffering from epilepsy, seizures and other serious medical conditions,” Knox wrote to WUFT News in an email.
In the Nov. 8 General Election, Floridians will vote on Amendment 2, which, if approved, will allow those who have cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, MS, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease access to medical marijuana.
The 2014 law covers only people with epilepsy, cancer and muscle spasms, and terminally ill cases have since been added.
“Even here, speaking with all of the patients that are eligible for it, I wish that the lawmakers could hear their stories because they have such compelling and heart-breaking stories,” Davis said. “If the lawmakers could listen to even a small percentage of these patient consultations that I do, it would change their minds immediately.”
Current marijuana law in Florida allows for only low levels of THC, which gives users the psychological effects, and high levels of CBD, which researchers lean more on for the medical benefits. However, if Amendment 2 passes, the restrictions on THC will be raised.
Current patients must wait 90 days before they can be recommended for medical marijuana by a licensed doctor, Davis said. And during that waiting period, he said he meets with them regularly.
Jim Funk, a Gainesville resident and marijuana activist, said the plant is better for use than other substances because the body doesn’t develop as much of a tolerance to it.
“It far outdoes narcotics in that narcotics, after a certain period of time, the body develops a tolerance to them,” he said, “and they don’t work very effectively” as a treatment for illnesses.