In continuation of the ongoing ineptitude surrounding Florida’s medical marijuana program, reports now indicate that prescribed patients are waiting multiple months to receive their ID cards.
Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use states that it should take up to 30 days for residents to receive their medical ID card once they’ve applied. But a recent Orlando Sentinel story indicates that patients in need are waiting double to triple that time to obtain their ID cards.
One man described his interactions with the state medical marijuana office “The most frustrating experience of my life.”
“I mailed my $75 payment on July 19, received an email stating that my card was on the way on Sept. 18, and I still have not received the card,” the Jacksonville resident told the Sentinel.
In another case, a 72-year-old man with stage 4 prostate cancer, which has reached his bones and lymph nodes, hasn’t received the card he applied for back on Aug. 15. The state office told his daughter it was on its way Oct. 5, yet they still haven’t received as of last week.
“I thought they had their stuff together,” the daughter told the Sentinel.
The ongoing narrative surrounding Florida’s medical marijuana program follows an inability to properly establish the infrastructure necessary for medical patients. Reading in between the lines, part of this is by design. Back in May, the state Senate failed to pass marijuana legislation. That caused state health officials to lay the framework of medical marijuana in Florida, leaving the state with a limp system. As House Speaker Joe Corcoran said in May, this political gamesmanship “had nothing to do with the will of the voters.”
Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use is in the process of hiring more workers to eliminate the sluggish wait times. In addition, the state agency is currently in negotiations to outsource the card production to a private company as a way to cut down wait times.
New hires also will help things along. This year’s state budget approved 28 new hires for the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, which had hired 11 of them as of Wednesday, according to [Office of Medical Marijuana Use Executive Director Christian] Bax. Previous to the new state budget, there were just three employees processing applications for the tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients in the state.
In case the statement didn’t jump out to you: Three employees processing applications for tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients in the state. That is astounding. Bax admitted that the wait time needed to be scaled back, though stayed firm regarding the “30-day wait cycle” for marijuana cards.
“We are doing everything we can right now to crank these cards out because we know there are patients in very difficult medical situations, and we do not want to be the bottleneck,” Bax said before the Florida Senate committee last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, doctors and trained professionals reported something more disheartening in that same story. Cancer patients are dying before receiving their medicine.
Ivan Field, the Marijuana Doctor CEO that runs a chain of South Florida clinics, told the Sentinel, “When you get sick and you go to a doctor and they write up a prescription for you, you go right to the drug store and get your medicine. Here, it’s just unacceptable. We had a patient die, a cancer patient, waiting for their medicine.”
For those seeking legalized medical marijuana in Florida currently, it seems waiting continues to be the only option.