FAMU seeks to educate public about medical marijuana

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida now has more than 240,000 registered medical marijuana patients and they’ve all helped pay for dozens of initiatives to help people know more about the do's and don'ts of the once-illegal medication.

Becoming a medical marijuana patient takes a doctor's recommendation and a valid state-issued patient ID. 

The card costs $75, $10 of which goes toward education and research. 

Peter Harris runs Florida A&M University's Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative that’s charged with educating minority communities.

“The Department of Health is funding us to look into educating the public on the value of medical marijuana, but at the same time, educating the public on consequences of illicit use,” Harris said.

FAMU has already held more than a dozen forums and a dozen more are scheduled.

The main message of these forums is that medical marijuana can be useful.

“We’re basically changing the landscape on how you look at marijuana,” Harris said.

Each participant is asked to take a survey afterward. 

Educators said they’ve found the intersection of legal and illegal marijuana causes confusion in many cases.

"You have to have a card and a product from a dispensary for it to be legal,” Harris said.

Even though doctors may give medical marijuana the OK, it faces resistance in some communities because it has been illegal for so long.

“There is definitely a stigma -- the use of marijuana as a medicine in most communities,” Harris said. "It varies on how they accept what they accept, what they do and what they don’t do. ”

The research being done at FAMU is behavioral and 14 projects involving professors and students have been funded. 

The data is expected over the next 12 months.

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