As medical marijuana becomes available to more patients in the state of Florida and Seasons Residents, many questions arise. Below, we’ve put together answers to some commonly asked questions.
Why would I choose The Herbal Clinic, MD over other practices out there?
Our lead physician, Mark N. Hashim, M.D, is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and is a Diplomate of American Board of Anesthesiology (DABA) who specializes in Pain Management with over 23 years of experience helping thousands of patients manage their chronic painful medical conditions. Born and raised in Maryland, he is a graduate of Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Chemistry. He attended Medical School at The University of Pittsburgh where he graduated with honors and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Society. He then attended The Medical College of Virginia for his surgical internship, and followed this with his anesthesia residency.
Currently he is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists (FSA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Florida Medical Association (FMA), the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), the Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (FSIPP), the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), Regenerative Network International and the Florida Wellcare Alliance (FWA). He has received numerous AACME credit hours for attending courses specializing in stem cell therapies and biologics, interventional pain management, and traditional pain management. Other interests include physical fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition.
He was one of the first physicians in the state of Florida to qualify with the Department of Health to be a provider for medical cannabis. He has visited a cannabis growth facility and is fully aware of the growth process as well as the finalization of products that are ordered to assist with your medical condition. In December of 2016, he was invited to speak as the sole physician to the Florida Senate Health Committee and provide his expertise and advice on recommendations to create the statute for Amendment 2 and ways to improve the registry site for the State of Florida.
Most of all, Dr. Hashim doesn’t believe in taking shortcuts for his patients. Instead, he wants his patients to get back to experiencing life to its fullest potential.
Choosing a physician to order medical cannabis can seem like a difficult task. Many doctors are advertising the quick, inexpensive and easy ability to order cannabis, yet they lack the necessary background needed to provide the care you deserve. Because of his expertise in physiology, pharmacology and understanding pain, he will provide you with the best advice in this newly developing medical arena. He has the unique ability to help assist patients to lower the amounts of pain medicines, anti-anxiety medicines, antidepressants and many other drugs that have numerous negative side effects on the mind and body; and in many cases he has removed these drugs altogether.
What is the difference between low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis?
Low-THC cannabis means a plant of the genus Cannabis, the dried flowers of which contain 0.8 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10 percent of cannabidiol weight for weight; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization. Low-THC cannabis contains very low amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, and typically does not result in the “high” often associated with medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, sale, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin that is dispensed only from a dispensing organization for medical use by an eligible patient as defined in s. 499.0295. Medical cannabis contains significant levels of the cannabinoid THC, and can result in the euphoric “high” sensation.
Who is eligible to receive an order for medical cannabis products in Tampa, FL?
Patients suffering from any of the qualifying conditions below are considered to be eligible to received medical cannabis in Tampa, FL, as of July 3, 2017:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic nonmalignant pain
- HIV Positive Status
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Any condition that is a similar type or class of the 11-conditions listed above (for example, “debilitating anxiety and PTSD” would be similar conditions)
- Any terminal condition* diagnosed by a secondary physician diagnosis (i.e. a physician who is not the same physician issuing the medical cannabis recommendation)
*A terminal condition is a progressive disease or medical or surgical condition that causes significant functional impairment, is not considered by a treating physician to be reversible without the administration of life-sustaining procedures, and will result in death within 1 year after diagnosis if the condition runs its normal course.
How can medical cannabis help me?
Medical cannabis has numerous applications for neurological, muscular and chronic debilitating conditions as well as cancer. The plant produces several substances that are present in the products consumed for medical conditions. THC is what causes the “high” and binds to receptors in certain areas of the brain. We recommend products that may or may not cause this “high” based upon the issue we are treating. Terpenes are also present and we are unsure of their medical benefit, but we know they need to be available in order to achieve the best results. The medical “magic” comes from the cannabinoids the plant produces.
What are the requirements to become a qualifying patient?
Florida state law has several requirements for patients to be eligible to receive low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis.
- A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
- A patient must be a Florida resident or seasonal resident.
- If under the age of 18, a patient’s guardian or legal caregiver
- A patient must be registered with the Medical Marijuana Use Registry by their ordering physician.
How does medical cannabis work?
Before discussing how cannabinoids work, first we must understand the endocannabinoid system. Each person produces their own cannabinoids, we know of 2 and suspect there are 4. The cannabinoid anandimide is widely present in the central nervous system and the other cannabinoid 2AG is in the body. There is belief that the depletion of these cannabinoids is associated with some disease process. When consuming the plant’s cannabinoids, it prevents the enzyme FAAH from breaking down the cannabinoids produced in your body, effectively elevating the anandimide and 2AG levels. In the endocannabinoid system humans have more receptors for cannabinoids in the brain than any other neurotransmitter, more than dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, etc. When cannabinoids bind to the receptors, it has a very unique reaction. If it needs to excite it does and if it needs to relax it does, no other neurotransmitter can make this claim. This is how it works on neurologic and muscular conditions. It also has receptors on pain pathways and this is why it is effective with chronic pain. There are no receptors for cannabinoids in the breathing center of the brain and this is why it’s impossible to overdose on cannabis (unlike opioids which kill 49 people in the US every day).
How can medical cannabis help patients with cancer?
As far as cancer is concerned, cancer cells also have receptors for cannabinoids. When bound to these receptors it does three different things. First it turns on the cell’s genes to kill the cancer, this is called apoptosis, so the cancer cell commits suicide. Second it decreases the development of blood vessels to the cancer cells, effectively cutting of the nutrient supply to cancer cells. Third it decreases the likelihood of metastasis (spread) of the cancer.
Who can sell low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?
Florida currently has seven authorized dispensing organizations: CHT Medical (Chestnut Hill Tree Farm), The Green Solution (San Felasco Nurseries), Trulieve (Hackney Nursery), Surterra Therapeutics (Alpha Foliage, Inc.), Modern Health Concepts (Costa Nursery Farms), Knox Medical (Knox Nursery), and GrowHealthy (McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery).
How can a patient purchase low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?
A qualified patient must first seek treatment from a qualified physician immediately preceding their order for low-THC or medical cannabis. Once the ordering physician inputs the patient’s information and the order information into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry, the patient or the patient’s legal representative will then be able to contact one of the seven licensed dispensing organizations and fill the order.
Who can purchase cannabis from a dispensing organization?
Dispensing organizations may only provide low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis or a cannabis delivery device to a qualified patient or a qualified patient’s legal representative.
Who can be a qualified patient’s legal representative?
A legal representative is a qualified patient’s parent, legal guardian acting pursuant to a court’s authorization as required under section 744.3215(4), Florida Statutes health care surrogate acting pursuant to the qualified patient’s written consent or a court’s authorization as required under section 765.113, Florida Statutes or an individual who is authorized under a power of attorney to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the qualified patient.
Can patients obtain low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis if they do not have one of the qualifying conditions?
No. Physicians may only order low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis for patients diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions outlined here.
Does the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act allow qualifying patients to grow their own low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?
How much low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis can a qualifying physician order for a patient?
Qualifying physicians can order no more than three 70-day supply and a cannabis delivery device needed by the patient for the medical use of low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis.
Will low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis be inspected and tested?
Yes. Low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis must be processed within an enclosed structure away from other plants and products. Dispensing organizations are required to test the processed low-THC cannabis and medical cannabis before they are dispensed. The results must be verified and signed by two employees of the dispensary. The dispensing organization must reserve two processed samples from each batch and retain them for at least nine months.
Cannabis test results must indicate that low-THC cannabis meets the definition of low-THC cannabis and that all medical and low-THC cannabis is safe for human consumption and free from contaminants.
The dispensing organization must also contract with an independent testing laboratory to perform audits on the dispensing organization’s standard operating procedures, testing records and samples.
What are the packaging requirements for low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis?
Packaging of low-THC and medical cannabis should be in compliance with the United States Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (15 U.S.C. ss. 1471 et seq.) They should be packaged in a receptacle that has a firmly affixed and legible label with the following information:
- A statement that the low-THC or medical cannabis has been properly tested
- The name of the dispensing organization from which the product originates
- The batch number and harvest number from which the product originates