Medical marijuana awareness: Separating truth from myths

Medical marijuana awareness: Separating truth from myths

As medical marijuana takes root in Florida, groups are coming together to educate the community.

In November, 71 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2.

Now more than 18,000 residents carry a medical marijuana card. It allows them to legally purchase and consume cannabis.

Many patients attended an expo so they could learn the ins and outs of the business. Organizers hoped to shed some light on the health benefits of their products and the medical marijuana industry.

For the patients attending the awareness event, medical marijuana is a necessity.

"I voted for it in November and we've been waiting on this for six months," said Army veteran Frank Rich.

Twenty-year veteran Rich suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He qualified for medical marijuana to help relieve his symptoms.

"Emotions are kind of uncontrolled. And a lot of families when they have a member that suffers PTSD, it affects the whole family," he said.

That's largely because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug on the federal level.

"Marijuana is not a drug, it's a food product," said Marc Matoza with Marijuana Med Today.

Matoza, the CEO of Marijuana Med Today, said there have been 40 to 50 years of misinformation about medical marijuana.

"Is it going to be the future? Yes, it's been the past and will be the future," Matoza said.

Dr. Michelle Beasley is the first medical doctor in Pensacola to accept new patients for treatment with medical marijuana.

"The process is a long one, it is getting better," she said. "The state regulations have improved the process, the state has also added more staff so it is easier for patients to get the card."

Even though medical marijuana is now legal in Florida.

"Right now, cannabis can't have any federally funded studies because of its status as a federally illegal drug," Dr. Beasley said.

That is why residents like Rich said getting it isn't easy.

"I believe the government needs to stay out of it," Rich said. "They need to let the medical field decide what is right for their patients."

Now that the law has been implemented in Florida, education is key.

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