Report: Nearly half of Florida’s qualified patients using smokable marijuana

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019 file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. Like in other states before it, advocates of legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois want the law to look backward as well as forward. It conscientiously attempts to ensure that those who profit from growing and selling the weed have substantial representation from the mostly impoverished neighborhoods nailed the hardest by decades of drug crackdowns. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) (Richard Vogel, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new report compiled for the state Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine shows nearly half of the state's 300,000 patients are using smokable medical marijuana, but some believe those numbers might be slightly misleading.

Forty-four percent of the state’s 291,000 qualified patients are certified to use smokable medical marijuana even though it’s only been available for half a year.

In those six months, 57 tons of whole flower marijuana has been dispensed.

Some advocates like Jeff Sharkey, with the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, aren’t surprised.

“Folks, certainly (baby) boomers and in their middle age, familiar with joints probably find that a useful method of application,” Sharkey said.

Others are skeptical, like marijuana advocate Josephine Cannella-Krehl, who founded MMJ Knowledge.

She said because edibles still aren’t available in Florida, many patients are using flower to make their own.

“You know that's a big ethical dilemma that we've set up a program where in order to access the whole plant a person may have to go in and lie to their doctor,” said Cannella-Krehl.

While edibles still haven’t been approved, the draft rules, so far, suggest that when they are, the restrictions will be heavy.

“Tasteless, colorless, odorless, no additives, and if you look at other markets that have used edibles like California or Nevada it sort of runs the gamut. Everything from gummies to chocolates to lozenges and between,” said Nick Hansen with MedMen.

The popularity of whole flower has its benefits for distributors. Unlike concentrates, whole flower is much cheaper to produce, which means higher profit margins for MMTCs many of whom are struggling to turn a profit.