Our Duty As Medical Marijuana Practitioners
Today fills me with a mixture of emotion. Excited, exhausted, and empathetic seem to be proper adjectives.
On November 8th, 71.3 percent of Floridians mandated by passage of Constitutional amendment an expansion of the medical marijuana regulations the state legislature enacted in 2014. The very next day, Dr. Gordon and I had a FaceTime conversation while he and his wife Patty (our office manager) were floating on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic.
I plainly stated, “now is the time.”
Having a broadcast, business, and marketing background I knew how to set up a business. What I didn’t expect and have never experienced in my career prior were the intensely personal stories of suffering.
I can tell you with certainty that the tired stereotypes of “pot smokers looking for legal weed” evaporate very quickly when you have someone on the phone that’s been dealing with some chronic illness for the past 30 years who is currently taking handfuls of narcotics.
Or when you get a call from a daughter whose mother is dying of terminal cancer wanting to know if we can help ease her suffering so she can live out her last few days as peacefully as possible.
I begin and end my workday with a weird mixture of emotions. While the stories we hear from people are terrible, the hope in their voices on the other end of the line is inspiring. The passage of issue 2 in Florida reflects the larger progression of our culture. Gone are the days of “Reefer Madness” and government sponsored corporate propaganda. The paper/pharma/anti-science mentality has slowly been replaced with scientific curiosity and research.
Prior to 1937, cannabis was used as a medication for over 5000 years across many cultures. The current prohibition is a direct result of racist sentiment after the Mexican revolution during the early 1900s, as Mexicans began to settle in Texas and Louisiana and brought their “marihuana” with them. It was used as a medication and relaxant and, like so many others, it was a part of their culture.
During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.
While the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a placeholder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation.
The Schafer Commission, as it was called, declared that marijuana should not be in Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the commission, and marijuana remains a Schedule I substance.
While some people still hold on to the long perpetuated dogma about the evils of marijuana for medicinal use, they are fast becoming a minority. The pendulum began to swing in 1996, when California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use.
Since then, 28 states and Washington D.C. have some sort of medical marijuana program in place.
With the legalization on a state level for medical use, medical practitioners all across the country have been able to utilize this “alternative” therapy in providing their patients with relief for their chronic symptoms.
We are fortunate have made ourselves a part of such a progressive movement within Florida. Over the past few weeks, the outpouring of support has been unbelieveable. Today was our first day booking appointments for new patients and our first week is already completely full. We’ve filled over 120 appointments so far today.
Dr. Gordon and the entire practice feel a great responsibility to provide the best in care to our patients. We are knowledgeable, want to educate and teach, and will fight for the right of our patients so that the medication to which they are Constitutionally entitled is available and accessible.
If you live with a chronic illness, we are here to help you. If you are in chronic discomfort, we are here to help you. If you are reaching the sunset of your journey in this life, we want to help you live out the remainder of it as comfortably as possible.
Our commitment is to our patients, and we take that very seriously.