What benefits do you see for patients throughout Florida within this space?

I have personally witnessed the benefits of cannabis helping both mine and my partner’s patients. I honestly did not expect the feedback that I have received. I thought people on chronic opiates or benzodiazepines would always stay on these medications, or possibly succumb to them. Instead, I see patients abandoning these harmful medications, as well as unexpected ones such as antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, gabapentin, sleep aids, and even blood pressure and diabetic medications! Cannabis can help with pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, overall mood regulation, sleep, movement disorders, appetite, attention, creativity, weight control, exercise tolerance and recovery, to name several. Because of this program, a patient can now order, by name, a safely cultivated or manufactured cannabis product that has either worked for them before or helped others with similar conditions.

 

What motivates you to be a part of the cannabis industry and how did you get started?

I am a board-certified pediatrician and had been working at the same pediatric urgent care center for the past twenty years, a practice that I helped grow from infancy, and where I intended to retire. Along came COVID and selfish corporate policies, and I was terminated for trying to keep my patients and staff safe. Naturally, I was devastated to leave my niche after years of service to my patients and my community. After becoming a cannabis patient, I soon started to understand the plant as a medication. I immersed myself in research articles and courses to further advance my knowledge and soon joined my current practice, All Natural MD, which has been practicing cannabis medicine since October 2016. As mentioned, I was impressed with our patient testimonials, yet disturbed to find they have no job protections, lost telehealth for re-certifications, and are subjected to repeated threats of proposed THC caps from the Florida legislators. Now I am fighting for my new patients, who are seemingly discriminated against based on their medication. Since joining the Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians Group, I have connected with other like-minded individuals who are advocating for their patients’ rights, and together we are ensuring that this field moves forward scientifically and systematically, while protecting our patients’ needs and safety.

 

Do you see Florida moving toward recreational cannabis and how will this affect your practice?

Yes, eventually I see Florida moving forward with recreational cannabis for adult use in several years. I believe this will benefit those who are unwilling or afraid to access the system medically. I think there will still be a role for medical cannabis for those patients who prefer evidence-based professional guidance, as well as preferred access to medical products (perhaps higher-potency), faster service at the dispensaries, and no taxes. Until then, I can assure that we will continue to advocate for expanded patient access to this important medicine, as well as hiring and employment protections for patients, reciprocity for out-of-state card holders to access our system when visiting, no medical THC caps, product safety, patient education, and telehealth for re-certification of existing patients.