Is medical cannabis an option for your health condition? Check this list

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Florida since 2016. However, residents still have a lot of questions about how to use the plant to support their health and well-being — and which conditions it helps.

Liberate Physician Centers first opened in Palm Beach County in 2015 but is now headquartered in Jacksonville, where they opened just after medical cannabis was legalized. Liberate was one of the first medical cannabis physician centers in the state of Florida. They give individuals access to qualified physicians to receive their medical use card, which “allows qualified patients to have access to state-approved dispensaries to help manage their condition naturally,” said Mark Turgeon, CEO and one of the founders of Liberate Physician Centers of Florida.

“It shows that they have gone through the legal process with a physician to show that they have debilitating health conditions and could benefit from the use of cannabis as an alternative healthier medication,” Turgeon said.

Have questions about the conditions cannabis can treat and whether this plant could be an option for you? Read on for expert answers from the team at Liberate Physician Centers.

“Patients can contact our office, and we will provide free education to anyone,” said Melissa Blake, managing director for Liberate. “The best way to know how it can help is to become educated and leave the gossip and rumors behind. There are so many studies out now to show that it is a true medicine — and needs to be taken properly.”

Medical cannabis can help with numerous medical conditions — all covered by the Florida medicinal use card.

Cannabis and the endocannabinoid system

Much of the research into the effects of cannabis involves a little-known but crucially important system known as the endocannabinoid system. This system is a natural, important part of the nervous system. Its cell-signaling receptors are located all over the body, helping to modulate responses to pain, inflammation and more.

“Cannabis turns on receptors in our brain and our immune system,” said Dr. Kia Mitchell, of the Orange Park Liberate office. “The CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis work synergistically with each other to provide what is called the entourage effect. Together they work to alleviate inflammation, pain, anxiety and help people get a more quality rest or sleep.”

That’s why medical use “is not to be confused with taking it recreationally,” added Dr Mitchell. “This will create two different effects in a person.”

Medical cannabis can help with numerous medical conditions — all covered by the Florida medicinal use card. The conditions include cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and glaucoma, AIDS and HIV and post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in veterans. Additionally, Dr. Mitchell said the law in Amendment 2 also allows for its use for other major conditions like anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, restless leg syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Medical cannabis is a great alternative medication for patients of all ages because cannabis is non-addicting and has little or no side effects,” said Blake. It can also be used to help wean patients off opioids.

Liberate was one of the first medical cannabis physician centers in the state of Florida.

7 conditions that can be treated by medicinal cannabis

Alzheimer’s disease: This degenerative condition is believed to be caused by the build-up of harmful plaques in the brain. New research found the THC in cannabis can help remove them, and other studies show it eases accompanying anxiety and depression while improving memory.

Cancer: Cannabis is well-known for easing chemotherapy-induced nausea and loss of appetite. Additional research shows promise in relieving other chemo side effects. What’s more, said Dr. Mitchell, “THC is known to kill cancer cells — while CBD can inhibit cancer cell growth.” The research is new but encouraging.

Chronic pain: In studies, patients living with chronic pain reported they slept better and could manage pain better when taking medical cannabis. “It is safer, healthier and has less side effects than opioids,” explained Dr. Adriene Miller from the Lake Worth Liberate office of Palm Beach.  “A patient will have the ease of knowing that they won’t become addicted or have a fatal overdose from cannabis.”

Crohn’s disease: While the research is still nascent, cannabis has been found to improve this inflammatory bowel disease’s symptoms. “Cannabis helps patients with digestive issues and helps patients to digest food and alleviate nausea and vomiting,” added Dr. Miller.   

Epilepsy: Cannabis has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures in certain drug-resistant types of epilepsy.

Glaucoma: A leading cause of blindness in people 60 and older, glaucoma increases pressure in the eye, which irreversibly harms the optic nerve. However, cannabis can lower that pressure, to ease or prevent the condition.

Parkinson’s disease: This incurable condition causes tremors and issues with balance and speaking. Cannabis has known muscle-relaxing effects, which can reduce the pain and intensity of the condition’s involuntary movements.

Interested in acquiring a medical use card in Florida? You’ll need past medical records showing a qualifying diagnosis and a valid Florida driver’s license or proof of residency for 31 days or more.

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