One Year In The Practice of Cannabis Medicine
One year ago today, Dr. Gordon, Patty, and myself opened the doors of the Compassionate Cannabis Clinic in Venice, Florida. January 3, 2017 marked the date that Amendment 2 was enacted into law within the Florida state constitution.
Looking back at the events of that first day puts things into amazing perspective for me. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if our patients could even achieve product – let alone relief – when they vested their 90-days.
Our legal staff cautioned us to wait. It was their opinion the legal environment within the state was still far to “grey” for them to advise us properly.
When we booked the entire month of January upon launch of this website on December 15, 2016, we knew there was a demand. With a staff of three (myself included), we treated over 230 patients last January. Their individual stories were heartbreaking – cancers in various stages, horrible debilitations, people with post-traumatic stress disorder so severe it was difficult for them to even come into our office for the first time. Patients bringing in duffel bags of prescription medication that they were taking daily.
Now, a full year into our practice, we’ve become the premier center for cannabis medicine in Florida. Those initial January patients are coming back in for their one year recertifications and the results we’ve seen are nothing short of incredible. The data we have collected over the course of the past 12 months clearly shows the positivity of plant:
- 80 percent of our patients report being able to better manage their symptoms with cannabis.
- 78 percent report an increase in their quality of life.
- 57 percent of our patients say their friends and family members have noticed a positive difference in their well being since beginning cannabis therapy.
- 66 percent of our patients report being able to engage in more life activities.
More importantly, note the number of our patients who have overdosed, been hospitalized, or died from using cannabis:
As Dr. Gordon often likes to say, this is the most morally gratifying practice of medicine that exists in America today. Being able to successfully treat and educate our patients, many of whom have little to no prior cannabis experience, brings all of us unimaginable joy.
Moving forward in our second year of practice, we still have much work to do. While we do finally have a statutory structure for Florida’s expanded medical cannabis program, glaring issues still present obstacles to patient access.
A cumbersome and poorly designed patient registry and dosing requirements interfere unnecessarily with a physician’s right to practice and the relationship between the patient and their appropriate treatment.
The two route of administration rule limits patient’s product choice and availability, and has seriously inhibited topical products coming to market.
An inherent lack of employee protections creates conflicts with patients who are able to control their symptoms by using cannabis while simultaneously putting their jobs and careers at risk by failing a drug test.
Lastly, the lack of available flower restricts patients unnecessarily by keeping whole plant products from reach.
We will continue our advocative push for patient access in 2018. By educating our patients, the public, and elected officials statewide it is our belief that – together – we can craft a model system for the American south.
Progress takes time and nothing worth it is easy, but we have a solemn responsibility to the residents of Florida and citizens everywhere to tear down the wall of prohibition – brick by brick.
I couldn’t be any prouder of what our staff has accomplished in the past year, and Dr. Gordon and myself very much look forward to the future. Patient by patient, we’re helping to transform the system of medicine in America.