Medical marijuana: How has it worked for other states?

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FILE – In this April 22, 2015 file photo, residents of Alabama stand outside of the state house in favor of medicinal marijuana legalization at a rally in Montgomery, Ala. A bill to allow medical marijuana cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in the Alabama Legislature, giving hope to advocates after years of setbacks. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

(WDHN) — As Alabama legislators debate whether to legalize medical marijuana, questions remain regarding qualifications, access, distribution, and usage.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medical marijuana “refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions.”

Currently, Alabama is one out of 17 states that has not legalized medical marijuana.

Florida marks the closest state to Alabama that has legalized the plant for its medical capabilities. In March 2019, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that legalized smoking medical marijuana. Since then, the state has created several regulations that specify who is allowed to use and dispense the drug as well as policies regarding dosage amounts and documentation.

According to the Florida Department of Health, in order for patients to use medical marijuana, they must first be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a certified physician. Qualifying medical conditions in Florida include Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and several others.

Once patients have been diagnosed, their information (as well as their caregivers’ information) must be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. They must then apply for a Medical Marijuana Use Registry Identification Card.

Retrieved from the Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use

Once they are approved, patients can fill the physician’s order at any approved Medical Marijuana Treatment Center or via delivery. There are currently 2,265 qualified medical marijuana physicians in Florida.

The Office of Medical Marijuana releases annual reports documenting recently-approved dispensing locations, authorization information, as well as dispensation numbers.

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