State health department warns of medical marijuana scams

Signs advertise for membership that Health Department says isn't required


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A week after a News4Jax report on signs advertising for "Legal Weed" around Jacksonville, the Florida Department of Health issued a warning to Floridians about medical marijuana scams.

The signs that popped up along a busy section of Atlantic Boulevard offer $199 office visits for “Legal Weed."

When News4Jax called the “866” number on the sign, a man on the other end of the line explained that the company, Florida Compassionate Youth, provides a license -- for a membership fee -- so a patient can go to a doctor's appointment to get a medical marijuana prescription for an illness.

“We currently have two memberships available, which is a silver and gold membership,” the male operator said. “Silver costs $199 for sign up and $10 a month after that, and the gold costs $699 for sign up and $20 per month after that.”

But according to the Florida Health Department's website, no such license is required to obtain a medical marijuana prescription.

The DOH said residents need to be aware that the health department is the only agency that can issue an identification card for medical marijuana in Florida. 

There are seven dispensing organizations, and they are the only businesses that can dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients. 

To qualify for medical marijuana in Florida:

  • A patient must have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition.
  • A patient must be a Florida resident.
  • If under the age of 18, a patient must have a second physician agree to the use in order to obtain an order from a qualified physician.
  • A patient must have tried other treatments without success.
  • An ordering physician must determine the risks of use are reasonable in light of the benefit to the patient.
  • A patient must be registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by their ordering physician.
  • A patient must be receiving treatment from a qualified ordering physician during the immediate preceding 3 months prior to an order being placed.

None of those requirements involves needing a license to see a doctor qualified to prescribe medical marijuana.

ONLINE: List of doctors who can prescribe medical marijuana

For a list of qualified dispensaries and physicians who can prescribe medical marijuana in Florida, go to http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office is looking into the company and the “Legal Weed” advertisements. Anyone who has called the 866 number is asked to report it on the AG's website

To report scams to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, call 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352).

To report fraud to the Attorney General’s Office, call 1-866-966-7226.

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