For those suffering from chronic pain, mental health issues and other ailments in Florida, medical marijuana may offer relief. If you're considering adding medical marijuana to your current treatment plan, here is a step-by-step guide to acquiring a state-issued license and finding the dispensary that's right for you.
What conditions qualify you for medical marijuana?
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There are other physical and mental conditions that qualify. Ask your doctor for more information.
What does medical marijuana do in the body?
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most common components of the marijuana plant that are concentrated, packaged and sold for medical relief purposes. More than 700 different strains have been produced, each offering a different effect. Some of the most popular are indica (producing a calming effect), sativa (producing a heightened effect) and a hybrid of the two.
The active chemicals in marijuana—cannabinoids—function similarly to endocannabinoids, chemicals the body naturally produces that affect pain, appetite and memory.
How do you get a card?
You must be 18 years or older and a Florida resident to qualify. (If you are under 18, two physicians must sign off on medical marijuana as an appropriate treatment option.)
To start, find a physician registered with Florida's Medical Marijuana Use Registry. This means the doctor has to have a special license to provide medical marijuana treatment. If the doctor determines that you have a qualifying condition, he or she will sign a statement approving the treatment and the physician will enter your name and information into a state database.
After that, create an online account at mmuregistry.flhealth.gov and follow the steps on the website to submit an application, which will be reviewed and either approved or rejected by the Florida Department of Health's Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Fees include the co-pay to see your physician, a $75 registration fee and an annual renewal fee of $75. Your card will be sent in the mail.
How do you find the product you want?
Once you have your card, you can purchase products at any licensed dispensary. (As you wait for your card, you may be able to use an email confirmation to visit a dispensary. Ask your doctor.) Here are a few of the top dispensaries to check out in Sarasota and Manatee counties:
6979 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 500-3128; 4549 14th St. W, Bradenton, (941) 216-7838; gocannabist.com
This boutique shop has an app called Forage that helps you discover the right strain of marijuana for you based on your medical needs. Get pure flower or pre-rolled joints from brands like Classix, Triple Seven and Seed & Strain; concentrates from Amber; and tablets from Press.
1435 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 957-9122; 2605 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 216-0090; curaleaf.com
Shop this store online 24 hours a day and place same-day pickup orders. There are also free next-day delivery options for both locations. Beside the regular pre-rolls, vapes and concentrates, Curaleaf also sells capsules, peach-flavored liquid to mix with water and a variety of chewable flavors.
Delivery-only service, (305) 912-2929, theflowery.co
This South Florida-based nursery grows marijuana plants and delivers products straight to your door. Choose from pure flower, concentrates, oils and more. Visit the website to shop products based on your preferred method of ingestion, activity or feeling you'd like to achieve.
2067 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, (941) 264-1399; 1475 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (239) 747-6488; libertyhealthsciences.com
Both Liberty Health locations sell cannabis-infused chocolate cookies, as well as 12 different flower flavors. Try out mint chocolate chip, mango sapphire, London pound cake and more. Order products for pick-up or delivery.
5045 Fruitville Road, Unit 119, Sarasota; 4312 75th St. W., Bradenton; 8465 Heritage Green Way, Bradenton; (833) 880-5420, muvfl.com
Müv hand-picks marijuana flower grown in state-of-the-art facilities in Apollo Beach. Each strain is turned into concentrates and oils, and distributed to the dispenary's several locations. Products include vapes, pre-rolled joints and pure flower, as well as tinctures, balms, chocolates and chewable gummies.
8307 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 259-6362, sunnyside.shop
Sunnyside is a newer dispensary in town, with the Florida greenhouse-grown One Plant flower and a marijuana supply that is 100 percent hand-trimmed. You can purchase the flower itself to roll into a joint, or buy concentrates to place into vaporizers or edible gummies to eat. Get matched with the best product for your needs by a wellness adviser at your consultation. Order online or shop there.
6815 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton, (941) 391-5455; 14906 Tamiami Trail, North Port, (941) 391-5455; surterra.com
You can get more than just plain flower at Surterra. The shop also carries THC chocolate, vaporizer pens, relief patches to wear on the skin, lozenges, pre-rolled joints and infused balms for muscle aches and soreness.
Multiple locations, trulieve.com
Trulieve offers service and delivery from a variety of area shops. Purchase a tincture (oil you place under the tongue), smokable flower, capsules, chocolate and gel edibles, and more. There are 10 different brands to choose from, and employees will help you pick the right one for you.
5203 Cortez Road. W., Suite 6, Bradenton, (941) 254-7494, vidacann.com
There are many products to choose from at VidaCann in indica, sativa and hybrid varieties. The franchise has locations all over Florida with specialists that can help choose the right product for you.