California has had a thriving “medical” marijuana industry for years, and doctors who prescribe medical marijuana are in high demand there. Colorado did the Golden State one better and recently legalized recreational marijuana. They’re not alone, either. A number of other states currently have limited medical marijuana programs, with doctors who prescribe medical marijuana to those with a variety of disorders, from anxiety to cancer.
Now, a statewide Florida political campaign to officially legalize medical marijuana appears poised to pass enthusiastically during the 2016 fall election. According to The Orlando Sentinel, “Marijuana is on the march in Florida.”
Not only that, but there have been a number of successful efforts to decriminalize the drug in various Florida cities in recent years. So far in 2016, Tampa and Volusia County have made it legal to carry small amounts of the drug, while South Florida counties did so in 2015. All over the Sunshine State, voters, police departments, and judges are pushing for more forgiving marijuana policies.
The simple fact is that the U.S. criminal justice system wastes extraordinary resources prosecuting non-violent marijuana drug offenders. Meanwhile, up to 20% of college students meet the medical criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, while countless Americans struggle with alcoholism. And yet despite the countless alcohol detox centers around the country, drugs like alcohol and tobacco remain legal, albeit with certain restrictions.
In the near future, it looks highly likely that Florida will begin road testing a medical marijuana program. So what does the future of Florida medical marijuana look like?
Cannabis has been shown to help with the symptoms of hundreds of disorders, like Crohn’s disease, anxiety and panic attacks, insomnia, and chronic pain. It’s estimated that 40 million U.S. adults — 18% of the total population — struggle with anxiety disorders. Then there’s the quarter of Americans dealing with acute pain, defined as pain that lasts longer than 24 hours. Already, the overprescription of opiates has many policymakers and public health officials wondering if marijuana might be a better tool for pain management.
Still, for now, you’d have to travel outside the borders of Florida to find doctors who prescribe medical marijuana. But after the 2016 election, that might no longer be the case.